International Space Station Current Affairs - 2019

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First all-women spacewalk conducted outside International Space Station

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch made history when they ventured outside International Space Station (ISS) for first ever all women spacewalk. It was the first time in more than half a century of space exploration that two women astronauts walked in space together.

Key Highlights

Christina Koch had already carried out four spacewalks but it was the first such mission for Jessica Meir, who became the 15th woman to walk in space.

They spent seven hours outside ISS replacing a failed power control unit and made their way to a location called Port 6 truss structure to replace battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU).

NASA was hoping to have an all-female spacewalk in March 2019 but it was then canceled after astronaut Anne McClain discovered that spacesuit she was to wear did not fit properly, due to which astronaut Nick Hague went in her place.


First woman to spacewalk– Russian Svetlana Savitskaya on 25 July 1984. She went outside USSR’s Salyut 7 space station for 3 hours, 35 minutes.

First person (in history) to spacewalk– Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov.

UAE’s Hazza Al Mansouri became first Arab Astronaut in space

The United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) Hazza Al Mansouri became the first Emirati and the first Arab astronaut to travel to International Space Station (ISS). However he is only the 3rd Arab in space after Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia (1985), and Mohammad Faris (1987) of Syria.

He blasted into space accompanied by Oleg Skripochka of Russia and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir onboard a Soyuz MS-15 rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

About Hazza Al Mansouri

The 35-year-old is a former pilot in the UAE armed forces. He will be the first Emirati astronaut and first Arab on orbiting laboratory of ISS, but not the first Muslim.

He will spend 8 days at International Space Station (ISS) doing scientific experiments with other international astronauts.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center provided Al Mansoori with a 10kg bag, which includes important elements of Emirati heritage, culture and history, which will be placed in museums upon his return.

UAE’s Space Plans

As part of UAE’s space plans, the Arab nation has announced its aim to also become the first Arab country to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021.  The country has named its Mars mission as “Hope”.

In the long-term, UAE also plans to build a “Science City” to replicate life on Mars. It also aims to create the first human settlement on red planet by 2117.