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NASA astronauts make history with first all-female spacewalk

Two NASA astronauts became the first women to work together in the vacuum of space.

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NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch pose for a photo together on the ISS.

NASA

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir stepped outside the International Space Station on Friday for the first ever all-woman spacewalk. Their work officially started at 4:38 a.m. PT. and concluded around 11:50 a.m. PT. NASA streamed it live.

NASA extended the planned 5.5-hour spacewalk to let the astronauts accomplish some extra maintenance tasks outside the station.

This wasn't the original plan for the historic spacewalk. NASA scrubbed what was supposed to be the first all-female spacewalk in March after a spacesuit sizing problem meant the right suit components weren't available.

Koch was one of the astronauts scheduled for the previous all-female spacewalk. The other was Anne McClain, who has since returned to Earth. This was Koch's fourth spacewalk, and Meir's first.

This second try at an all-female spacewalk was originally set to take place Oct. 21, but NASA moved the date up so Koch and Meir could replace a faulty battery charge/discharge unit that failed to work as expected after an Oct. 11 spacewalk to install new batteries. 

The equipment replacement operation went smoothly and the new unit appears to be working as expected.

NASA emphasized that the faulty battery charge/discharge unit didn't pose any danger to the station or the astronauts, but it prevented the ISS from receiving an expected increase in power.

Space fans reacted to the event with emotion and encouragement on social media.

Originally published Oct. 15. 
Update, Oct. 18 at 7:08 a.m. PT: Adds details about ongoing spacewalk.