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ISS: First all-female spacewalk completed

US astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history on Friday, completing the first all-female spacewalk. An earlier attempt was cancelled when there weren't enough spacesuits in the right size.

Space history reached another milestone on Friday when American astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir conducted the first all-female spacewalk then returned to the International Space Station (ISS). 

The two astronauts entered the airlock of the ISS at about 18:40 GMT, just a few seconds under seven hours after beginning their excursion.

The two women successfully replaced a broken battery charger, which regulates energy collected from the station's solar panels. 

"Copy. Thermal cover closed. Nice work," said Stephanie Wilson, a spacewalk coordinator at the mission control in Houston.

The four remaining members of the Expedition 62 crew, all men, had stayed inside the station.

The faulty charger posed no risk to the crew or the station but kept the ISS from receiving an increase in power. 

However, the spacewalk will not be considered concluded until the airlock repressurizes. 

NASA broadcast the spacewalk live on its own television service NASA TV.

One for the history books

The event was the 421st spacewalk ever and the 221st performed at the ISS since its launch in 1998. 

It was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, an electrical engineer seven months into an 11-month space mission. Her mission will be the longest ever completed by a woman.

For Meir, a marine biologist, it was her first walk. She is the 15th woman to complete a spacewalk.

Read more: Space mice — NASA's rodent astronauts

In an interview before the operation, Koch told NASA, "In the past women haven't always been at the table. It's wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role."

Wardrobe malfunction

The history-making walk was originally scheduled for March for Koch and astronaut Anne McClain. NASA canceled it abruptly when it became clear there were not enough spacesuits in the appropriate size.

Read more: NASA unveils new, flexible spacesuits

McClain returned to Earth in June. Meir has been at the ISS since September.

A second attempt by Koch and Meir had been scheduled for next week. NASA moved it to Friday when the battery-charging unit failed.

Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov completed the first spacewalk in 1965. In 1984, Svetlana Savitskaya, also of the Soviet Union, became the first woman to complete a spacewalk.

Watch video 00:36

A Russian cosmonout shares his memories of the first moon landing

mvb, kp/rt (AP, dpa)

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