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NASA's Christina Koch during a spacewalk on Friday. Photo: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch stepped into the vacuum of space for a history-making spacewalk outside of the International Space Station on Friday.

Why it matters: While American women have been flying in space since Sally Ride made her first trip to orbit in 1983, today's spacewalk marks the first all-female spacewalk in history.

Details: Koch and Meir were expected to go for their first spacewalk on Oct. 21, but a power issue on the station forced mission managers to plan Friday's walk first, delaying the Monday spacewalk and others in the series.

  • The two astronauts will change out a battery charging unit that collects energy from the station's solar arrays, NASA said in a statement, adding that the unit's failure presents no harm to the orbiting outpost or its astronauts.
  • This is Koch's fourth spacewalk and Meir's first, and it is expected to take 5 to 6 hours.
  • The two women are self-proclaimed "best friends."

Between the lines: While women made up half of Meir and Koch's 2013 astronaut class, women comprise about 34% of NASA's workforce as a whole, and 23% of the agency's science and engineering employees, according to agency statistics.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

8 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios