The Downlink: A Historic All-Woman Spacewalk, Hubble Spies Interstellar Comet
Jessica Meir and Christina Koch
Jessica Meir, left, and Christina Koch, right, prepare for the first all-woman spacewalk scheduled for 18 October 2019.
Welcome to issue 3 of The Downlink, a planetary exploration news roundup from The Planetary Society! Here's everything that crossed our radar this week.
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the first all-woman spacewalk in history. It was the 421st spacewalk by any country since 1965, but just the first time no men participated. During their trip outside the International Space Station, Koch and Meir replaced a battery charge/discharge unit that regulates the amount of power coming from the station's solar arrays. NASA is in the midst of installing new lithium-ion batteries to store power from those arrays. Learn more about the International Space Station here.
NASA intends to buy enough Space Launch System (SLS) rockets from Boeing to support as many as 10 Artemis missions to the Moon. After the initial Artemis III Moon landing flight scheduled for 2024, NASA plans to equip SLS with a more powerful upper stage. The agency made a similar commitment last month with Lockheed Martin to buy up to 12 Orion spacecraft, indicating SLS and Orion remain the agency’s human spaceflight vehicles of choice for the foreseeable future. Learn more about the agency’s back-to-the-Moon Artemis program here.
In other Artemis news, NASA unveiled the spacesuits its astronauts will use. Here’s a quick overview video from NASA. The Orion Crew Survival System suit is a lightweight orange garment to be used for launch and reentry, while the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) is a beefier suit designed for Moonwalks.