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First all-female spacewalking team makes history

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NASA astronauts Christina Koch (right) from Livingston, Montana, and Jessica Meir put on their spacesuits as they prepare to leave the hatch of the International Space Station and begin the historical first-ever all-female spacewalk. PHOTO COURTESY OF NASA

By Marcia Dunn ASSOCIATED PRESS

LIVINGSTON – The world’s first all-female spacewalking team made history high above Earth on Oct. 18, replacing a broken part of the International Space Station’s power grid.

As NASA astronauts and close friends Christina Koch, from Livingston, Montana, and Jessica Meir successfully completed the job with wrenches, screwdrivers and power-grip tools, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that men weren’t part of the action. They insisted they were just doing their job after years of training, following in the footsteps of women who paved the way.

Spacewalking is widely considered the most dangerous assignment in orbit. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who operated the station’s robot arm from inside during Friday’s spacewalk, almost drowned in 2013 when his helmet flooded with water from his suit’s cooling system.

Meir, a marine biologist making her spacewalking debut, became the 228th person in the world to conduct a spacewalk and the 15th woman. It was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, an electrical engineer who is seven months into an 11-month mission that will be the longest ever by a woman. Both are members of NASA’s Astronaut Class of 2013, the only one equally split between women and men.

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