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Two Female Astronauts Are Making History

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Men have floated out the hatch on all 420 spacewalks conducted over the past half-century. That changed Friday with spacewalk No. 421.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir ventured outside the International Space Station before 8 a.m. ET Friday and will spend over five hours replacing a broken battery charger, or BCDU. NASA’s livestream of the historic spacewalk features astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson as one of the female narrators.

The units have previously been replaced using a robotic arm, but the newly failed unit is too far for it to reach.

The units regulate how much energy flows from the station’s massive solar panels to battery units, which are used to provide power during nighttime passes around Earth. Three previous spacewalks had been planned to replace lithium-ion batteries, but those will be rescheduled until the latest BCDU issue is resolved.

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The hardware failure does present some concern, especially since another BCDU was replaced in April and there are only four more backups on the station. In total, there are 24 operational BCDUs.

The battery charger failed after Koch and a male crewmate installed new batteries outside the space station last week. NASA put the remaining battery replacements on hold to fix the problem and moved up the women’s planned spacewalk by three days.

All four men aboard the ISS remained inside during Friday’s spacewalk.

The spacewalk is Koch’s fourth and Meir’s first.

Koch and Meir will have some time left over during their extravehicular activity, or EVA, to finish additional tasks like hardware installations for the European Space Agency.

The planned EVA comes almost seven months since the first all-female spacewalk was canceled due to a lack of properly sized spacesuits for astronauts Koch and Anne McClain. Astronaut Nick Hague ended up joining Koch instead.

But this time, the right spacesuit hardware is in place.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history months after the first all-female spacewalk was supposed to take place with Anne McClain. USA TODAY

NASA, meanwhile, is asking schoolteachers to share photos of their students celebrating “HERstory in the making.” The pictures could be featured on the spacewalk broadcast.

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Russia holds claim to the first spacewalk in 1965 and also the first spacewalk by a woman in 1984. The U.S. trailed by a few months in each instance.

As of Thursday, men dominated the spacewalking field, 213 to 14.

Meir, a marine biologist who arrived at the orbiting lab last month, will be the 15th female spacewalker. Koch, an electrical engineer, is seven months into an 11-month spaceflight that will be the longest by a woman.

Contributing: Emre Kelly, Florida TodayAssociated Press

Source: Two female astronauts are making history. How to watch NASA’s first all-female spacewalk

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Watch as NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir prepare tools necessary for their spacewalk duties outside of the International Space Station. Watch the Spacewalk Live https://www.space.com/first-all-femal… Credit: NASA

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Drunk Astronauts: This Beer Is the Beginning of Zero-Gravity Drinking

 

 

Ever since we reached towards the stars, and as a civilization, made our way upward — ever since Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon — an awestruck human populace has often looked down the horizon of space travel, and wondered: Great, now how can we get drunk up there? And now, we’ve got an answer.

Australian brewery 4 Pines Brewing has teamed up with engineering firm Saber Astronautics Australia to develop a stout called Vostok Space Beer. They’re currently crowdfunding a brand-new type of bottle, too. Both the bottle and the brew in it are designed for consumption in space that could turn the cold, empty void into one endless, extraterrestrial party.

Mind you, this comes just days after Australia announced a new space agency. Coupled with this news,  ‘seems like the country’s working hard to win the only space race that truly matters: Getting sauced, well beyond the confines of our atmosphere.

The idea behind designing a beer bottle for microgravity was to make the drinking experience as familiar as possible. Rather than relying on a squeeze bag, astronauts will be able to drink straight from the bottle thanks to surface tension — which will keep the beer clinging to the glass — and a sort of wick that will draw beer from the bottom of the bottle up towards the neck.

The beer itself is less carbonated than normal, meaning there’s less of a chance of a big bubbly mess in the middle of a space station, but also enough for the drink to still taste and feel like a beer, according to Space.com

Still, there are more hurdles facing space beer aficionados than just designing a vessel for the stout. We don’t really know how drinking in different levels of gravity will affect people’s tolerance or typical alcohol metabolism, but these are the kinds questions that the brewing and engineering team hope to research if they receive funding (and good luck getting that incredible job). But truly: While Chris Hadfield’s videos of him playing an acoustic guitar and singing aboard the International Space Station (which, currently, is a designated dry area) might present spaceflight as a tranquil vacation, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Having drunken space-sailors on deck could make matters worse.

All of this goes without mentioning the fact that interstellar beer runs would be, once your supply runs out,  expensive and difficult (the beer has to come to you, basically, and unless you’ve got the cash to launch a satellite into space to beer someone, you’re outta luck). It’s why Russian (and Anheuser-Busch) scientists have conducted experiments to see if hops and barley can grow in space.

Currently, NASA astronauts are forbidden from drinking alcohol, though there were eventually-scrapped plans to send sherry as part of an astronaut’s meals in the 1970s. Russia, however, has had fewer restrictions and even recommended that their astronauts drink cognac from time to time. You know, for their health.

But even if the ISS isn’t about to install a minibar any time soon, 4 Pines said they have received some interest from space tourism companies who might someday want to let people enjoy a cold one while bouncing around on a parabolic flight. But until that happens, you’re just gonna have to do it the old-fashioned way, and pregame.

The post Drunk Astronauts: This Beer Is the Beginning of Zero-Gravity Drinking appeared first on Futurism.

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