First all-female spacewalking team makes history

The world's first all-female spacewalking team has made history on Friday, working to replace a broken part of the International Space Station's power grid.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir hauled out wrenches, screwdrivers and power-grip tools - marking it the first time in 500 years of spacewalking that men weren't part of the action.

America's first female spacewalker from 35 years ago, Kathy Sullivan, was delighted.

She said it's good to finally have enough women in the astronaut corps and trained for spacewalking for this to happen.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir hauled out wrenches and screwdrivers to replace a broken part. Credit: AP

"We've got qualified women running the control, running space centers, commanding the station, commanding spaceships and doing spacewalks," Sullivan said earlier this week.

Sullivan added: "And golly, gee whiz, every now and then there's more than one woman in the same place."

NASA leaders, Girl Scouts and others cheered Koch and Meir on.

NASA included some in its TV coverage including "Go girls go," two young sisters wrote on a sign in crayon.

At the same time, many expressed hope this will become routine in the future.

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a three-time spacewalker who looked on from Mission Control in Houston, added: "Hopefully, this will now be considered normal."

NASA originally wanted to conduct an all-female spacewalk last spring, but did not have enough medium-size suits ready to go until summer.

Their job is to fix a broken part of the station’s solar power network. Credit: AP

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.

It was the second such failure of a battery charger this year, puzzling engineers and putting a hold on future battery installations for the solar power system.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine watched the big event unfold from Washington headquarters.

"We have the right people doing the right job at the right time," he said.

He added: "They are an inspiration to people all over the world including me. And we're very excited to get this mission underway."

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi congratulated Koch and Meir "for leaving their mark on history" and tweeted that they're an inspiration to women and girls across America.

Friday's milestone spacewalk was the 421st for team Earth.