President Donald Trump on Friday video conferenced two NASA astronauts in space to congratulate them as they completed the first all-female spacewalk in history.
Trump praised the astronauts, Christa Koch and Jessica Meir, for their “historic” feat and hailed the women as “brave, brilliant women … who represent our country so well.”
The phone call began with laughter after a delay in response from the astronauts in space.
“Station — this is President Donald Trump do you hear me?” Trump began the phone call.
After a long pause, the astronauts finally said “hello” to the President, to which he responded: “I was starting to get worried about you. You’re in an interesting place.”
One reason for the delay? White House adviser Ivanka Trump told the room that it was the first time astronauts have spoken to a president outside of a spaceship since 1969.
“Women and girls around the world are seeing some of their earliest dreams realized today with this historic all-women spacewalk,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement following the call. “Women in STEM are a force to be reckoned with and advocating for increased access to these fundamental educational skills has been some of the most important work I’ve been able do.”
It almost didn’t happen this year, but two NASA astronauts made history as part of the first-ever all-female spacewalk, according to NASA.
On the morning of Oct. 18, astronaut and North Carolina State graduate Christina Koch and astronaut Jessica Meir suited up for their mission, the 221st spacewalk performed in support of space station assembly.
Beginning at about 7:50 a.m. that day, Koch and Meir worked to replace a battery charge/discharge unit that failed to activate after new lithium-ion batteries were installed on the International Space Station’s exterior structure earlier this month.
“In the past women haven’t always been at the table,” Koch said in an interview about the historic spacewalk, according to NASA. “It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role. That can lead in turn to increased chance for success. There are a lot of people who derive motivation from inspiring stories of people who look like them, and I think it’s an important story to tell.”
Back in March, NASA canceled what was expected to be the first-ever all-female spacewalk.
Koch and fellow astronaut Anne McClain were set for a spacewalk on March 29 which would have marked the first with only women in the International Space Station’s 21-year history.
Instead, Koch did the spacewalk with fellow astronaut Nick Hague.
Prior to the scheduled walk, crews realized Koch and McClain could not do the spacewalk together. McClain did not realize until she was at the space station that the medium-sized spacesuit fit her better. Koch also wears a medium, and only one medium spacesuit was available at that time at the International Space Station.
McClain became the 13th woman to walk in space on March 11, which is when the team made that realization, and Koch became the 14th woman in history to do a spacewalk on March 29.
On Oct. 18, Meir became the 15th woman to achieve that feat.
Koch is also expected to make history for the longest single spaceflight by a woman with an astounding 328 days. If everything goes as scheduled, she will break the record of 288 days set by Peggy Whitson in 2016 and 2017.
Her spaceflight will run just 12 days short of the all-time record of 340 days set by Scott Kelly in 2015 and 2016.
NASA aims to put the first woman on the moon in 2024 with NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program.