NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir have made history with the first all-female spacewalk.
The spacewalk, which started early Friday, is Meir’s first and Koch’s fourth. NASA tweeted the spacewalk started at 7:38 AM ET, as Koch and Meir "set their spacesuits to battery power.”
When she ventured outside the orbiting space lab, Meir became the 228th person in the world to conduct a spacewalk and the 15th woman.
NASA originally wanted to conduct an all-female spacewalk last spring but did not have enough medium-size suits ready to go. Koch and Meir were supposed to install more new batteries in a spacewalk next week, but had to venture out three days earlier to deal with an equipment failure that occurred over the weekend. They need to replace an old battery charger for one of the three new batteries that was installed last week by Koch and fellow NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan.
"Jessica and Christina, we are so proud of you. You're going to do great today," Morgan radioed from inside as the women exited the hatch.
Koch is seven months into an 11-month mission that will be the longest ever by a woman.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine watched the big event unfold from the agency's headquarters in Washington.
"We have the right people doing the right job at the right time," he said. "They are an inspiration to people all over the world including me. And we're very excited to get this mission underway."
The astronauts’ achievement won praise across social media. “You are an inspiration to women & girls across America,” tweeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“Congratulations to Jessica Meir and Michigan native Christina Koch on this incredible and historic achievement!” tweeted Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., who also watched the historic event from NASA headquarters.
“The first all-woman spacewalk is a milestone worth noting and celebrating as the agency looks forward to putting the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 with NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program,” explains NASA on its website.
Initial mission capability for 2024 involves landing two astronauts on the moon’s South Pole. Astronauts will live and work out of the lander for 6.5 days, according to NASA.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers