When Caribou, Maine, native Jessica Meir exits the Quest airlock at the International Space Station on Friday morning, she will be floating into history.

Astronaut Jessica Meir Josh Valcarcel – NASA – John

Meir and fellow astronaut Christina Koch will become the first all-woman team of astronauts to do a spacewalk together.

Their mission will be to replace a failed battery charge-discharge unit with a new power controller unit. NASA said it will take the women just over five hours to install the 230-pound unit, which feeds the space station’s overall power supply.

There had been some uncertainty about what day their historic spacewalk would occur, but on Wednesday afternoon NASA issued a news release announcing that it would take place Friday morning at 7:50 a.m. In the news release, the two women are shown in a photograph holding tools that they used to prepare their spacesuits for the walk.

“The duo will set their suits to battery power on Friday at 7:50 a.m., when the spacewalk officially starts, and exit the Quest airlock. NASA TV begins its live coverage at 6:30 a.m.,” NASA said in its news release. The Quest airlocks is a pressurized space station module that consists of two compartments attached end to end by a connecting bulkhead and hatch.

Once the astronauts leave the space station they will venture to the far side of the station before landing on the Port 6 integrated truss structure. That is where the solar arrays, thermal control radiators and external payloads are located.

According to NASA, the spacewalkers will replace the failed power regulator with a spare BCDU. The failed unit has been in operation since 2000 and was due to return to Earth on the next Space X Dragon resupply ship. The unit regulates the charge to batteries that collect and distribute power to the space station.

The crew of the space station will investigate what went wrong with the BCDU and schedule three battery replacement spacewalks at later dates. Five planned spacewalks to repair a cosmic particle detector will take place in November and December.

A flight engineer, Meir grew up in the Aroostook County town of Caribou. She is a graduate of Caribou High School.  She is scheduled to spend six months on the space station, which orbits 220 miles above Earth. She has dreamed of going on a spacewalk for decades.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to go out the hatch,” Meir told the Press Herald in a September interview. “That’s when you really feel like an astronaut.”

On Wednesday’s Twitter feed, Meir posted a photograph of herself fist bumping with Koch while Meir conducted a spacesuit safety check.

“Photos will be much more spectacular once we pass through the hatch,” she tweeted. “Be sure to watch live: nasa.gov/live.”

 

 

 

 

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