Svetlana Savitskaya, the first female spacewalker, was welcomed aboard Russian space station with an 'apron'

Come Friday, October 18, all women aboard the International Space Station will make a historic spacewalk with no male colleague accosting them. They will walk out the ISS station to replace the power source on the ISS.

Scheduled at 7:50 am EDT (11:50 GMT), the two women astronauts -- Christina Koch and Jessica Meir -- will fix the faulty battery charge/discharge unit (BCDU) for over five hours. The women all over the globe will be watching the historic event, reminiscent of the spirit of women emancipation. Ironic, but the event comes just a week after the death of the first man who conducted the spacewalk in 1965, cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on Oct. 11, 2019.

However, it's time to remember the first Russian woman who staged a spacewalk for the first time in 1984 and it was Svetlana Savitskaya. In 1995, Savitskaya revealed her encounter with all male colleagues aboard Soyuz T-7 in an interview with Baltimore Sun journalist Clara Germani.

Svetlana Savitskaya
Svetlana Savitskaya

Savitskaya was the second woman in space 19 years after Valentina Tereshkova. When their Soyuz T-7 docked with the space station on August 20, 1982, she became the first and the only woman in the crew and she was presented with an apron by the commander and told "to get to work," she recalled her first enconter and quickly added:"I was quickly able to establish a working, professional relationship with them."

It was during her second mission launched on July 17, 1984, aboard Soyuz T-12 with Commander Vladimir Dzhanibekov that she undertook the spacewalk. Both of them exited the space station on July 25, 1984, to spacewalk, outside the Salyut 7 space station for 3 hours and 35 minutes.

She had to cut and weld metals in space which she later described as daring. "I did not understand the point of it. We might burn our spacesuits or the exterior of the station," but she became the first woman to perform a task that silenced her critics who raised eyebrows over a woman being asked to do spacewalk.

She was scheduled to undertake another space flight in 1986 on a Soyuz-TM to the space station Mir but it was abandoned due to her pregnancy. Otherwise, Svetlana Savitskaya remains the only woman who undertook the first spacewalk and chosen one among 50 spacewalkers as of 2010.

NASA's first all-woman spacewalk that was cancelled earlier over an ill-fitting suit, should be rendered to history now. However, NASA said the all-female spacewalk was not purposefully planned.
"It is something that was bound to happen eventually, and the increase in female astronauts in space for the past year is providing another window of opportunity. Fifty percent of the 2013 astronaut candidate class are women and of the 11 members of 2017 astronaut candidate class still in training, five are women," said a NASA spokeswoman.

"Our achievements provide inspiration to students around the world, proving that hard work can lead you to great heights, and all students should be able to see themselves in those achievements," noted NASA.

The spacewalk will be livestreamed from 6.30am EDT (10:30 GMT) on NASA TV and on the agency's website.

This article was first published on October 17, 2019