Samantha Cristoforetti becomes first European woman to walk in space
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti created history when she became the first female European to conduct a space walk. At around 7:30 pm IST on July 21, Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev stepped outside the International Space Station (ISS) to perform a diverse set of activities. She also set a record earlier when she became the first one to use TikTok inside the ISS.
- Walking in space is a dream for many but is only realized by a few. According to NASA, since December 1998, there have been 251 spacewalks at the ISS.
- Cristoforetti is the latest to join the distinguished list. Out of 251, hers is the first by a European female.
- She is also only the 19th woman ever to conduct a spacewalk.
European Space Agency's (ESA) Cristoforetti and Roscosmos's Artemyev conducted a spacewalk aka Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) at around 7:30 pm IST (10 am EDT). The two spent almost seven hours outside the ISS. This was Cristoforetti's first and Artemyev's sixth space walk. The walk was from the Russian side of the spacecraft, with Cristoforetti the first to exit the Nauka module.
The astronauts performed various activities during the spacewalk. They first installed platforms and workstation adapters to Nauka, the newest ISS laboratory. They deployed 10 nanosatellites to collect radio electronics data and spent a major chunk of their time getting the European Robotic Arm operational. The spacewalk was cut short by the control center in Moscow by one hour in advance due to safety reasons.
The European Robotic Arm is 11.3-meter long and will be used by researchers working inside or outside the orbiting complex. Like the Canadaarm2 of the Canadian Space Agency, it will be able to 'walk' like an inchworm along the hull of the ISS.
Cristoforetti was born in Milan in April 1977. Before becoming an astronaut, she was an Italian Air Force pilot. In 2009, she was selected as an ESA astronaut. Her first mission to the ISS was in 2014. She is in the space station now as part of her second mission. In 2015, she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.