It's being called one giant leap for womankind. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch performed the first all-female spacewalk Friday roughly 250 miles up at the International Space Station.
Meir, a UCSD alumna, has been at the International Space Station since Sept. 25, when she launched on her first-ever trip to space alongside Russia's Oleg Skripochka and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, of the United Arab Emirates.
Meir's mission will last six months.
On Friday, the astronaut experienced another milestone: her first float out of the International Space Station. And with her friend and so-called "space sister" by her side, to boot.
[G] NASA Astronaut With Ties to San Diego Launches Into Space
Meir and Koch were tasked with fixing a faulty battery of the space station’s power network. The astronauts were initially scheduled to repair the device on Oct. 21, but NASA moved up the spacewalk after the critical battery power controller failed just days before.
The historic moment marked the first time in a half-century that a woman floated out without a male crewmate.
NASA streamed the historic moments live, from space. And, back on Earth, the world watched the women hard at work.
Trailblazers like Kathy Sullivan, who was America's first female spacewalker 35 years ago, were delighted.
Sullivan said it's good to finally have enough women in the astronaut corps and trained for spacewalking for this to happen.
"We've got qualified women running the control, running space centers, commanding the station, commanding spaceships and doing spacewalks," Sullivan told The Associated Press earlier this week. "And golly, gee whiz, every now and then there's more than one woman in the same place."
Meir became the 228th person in the world to conduct a spacewalk and the 15th woman.
It was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, who is seven months into an 11-month mission that will be the longest ever by a woman.
The duo spent 7 hours and 17 minutes on Friday's spacewalk. About 4 hours and 9 minutes into their mission, Meir gave a little shout-out to San Diego as the astronauts were told they were passing over Southern California.
"Oh, nice! My old home," Meir said. "Hello, everybody in San Diego."
"Yes, indeed, hello," Koch said.
"Beautiful, that coastline," Meir added.
After the brief shout-out, they were back at the task at hand.
During Meir’s six-month mission, she will be conducting experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science inside a microgravity laboratory.
Meir studied diving physiology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
Before receiving her doctorate in marine biology at UCSD, Meir studied biology at Brown University and studied at the International Space University in France. She worked for three years at NASA's Johnson Space Center to research how humans' physiology changes in space.
When Meir was 5 years old, she was asked to draw a picture of what she wanted to be when she grew up. The drawing, she recalls, was a photo of an astronaut on the moon with an American Flag behind her.
Now, she is that astronaut.
For the first time, Meir said, she will go from being the one doing the studying of others to the one being studied.
To track Meir's journey, visit her NASA page.