After making history last October by being the first women to walk in space, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch have opened 2020 with their second mission outside the International Space Station.
Meir and Koch left the station for the second time shortly before 7 a.m. EST last Wednesday with the goal of replacing the batteries for the solar panels on the outside of the ISS, CNN reported.
Despite an incident with the video camera on Koch’s hull, which resulted in a 30-minute delay in a mission scheduled to a long six hours, Meir and Koch proceeded to replace the nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries that store the energy generated by the solar panels in the station’s port shell, according to the American Space Association.
Meir is an astronaut, marine biologist, and physiologist with a long history of research on emperor penguins in Antarctica, and previously served as an assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She followed a post-doctoral research in comparative physiology at the University of British Columbia.
After serving as an aquanaut on the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 4 (NEEMO), she made her first space trip on September 25, 2019. She is expected to return to Earth in the spring.
On her part, Koch is an engineer and astronaut who graduated in 2013. After earning her Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University, she served with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as station chief for American Samoa.
Her first space trip was on March 14, 2019 to the ISS as a Flight Engineer, and she later joined Meir in the first all-female spacewalk.
According to NASA, since December 2019, Koch has been the woman who has spent the most time in space.
Prior to launching to the space station in September, Meir told Space.com: “I would absolutely love to be the first woman on the moon. That would be my ideal mission. It is time for us to go back to the moon, and I think that we will be able to do that in the near future and I would love to be the one on that mission.”
And it looks like her dream will come true.
Between NASA, U.S. commercial spaceflight companies, and other international partners like the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), they have designed the so-called Artemis program, a plan in development to put the first woman on the moon by 2024.