Women have been in space for decades, but there has never been a space path involving more than one cosmonaut until this past week. On October 18, NASA's Christina Koch and Jessica Mayr teamed up on a historic walk to help maintain the International Space Station.
As can be expected, both were greeted by telephone by the President of the United States. But the president, embarrassingly, mischaracterizes their achievements.
"This is the first time for a woman outside the space station," Donald Trump said incorrectly, ignoring the work of Svetlana Savitskaya, a Russian astronaut who entered space in 1
Koch actually participated in a space trip in March when she was to be accompanied by Anne McClain. McClain didn't join, probably – though not officially – because her ex-wife accused her of what appeared to be the first space crime. NASA has denied that the charges call for the cancellation, saying there are simply no two space suits suitable for female astronauts.
In any case, Koch did not correct the President's mistake. Instead, Meir learned the president by phone when he tried to compliment the astronauts and again confused the import of their work and the event. "You are amazing people," he said. "They are conducting the first ever female space trip to replace the outer space station. They do some work and do it at a very high altitude – an altitude that very few people will ever see. "
Meir gently declined the compliment, telling Trump:" We don't want to take too much credit, because so far there have been many other female spaceports. This is the first time there are two women out at the same time. "
But it is not the first time a female astronaut has to teach the president in space, a topic he claims to hold close and dear. As The Verge notes, in 2017, Trump asked NASA's Peggy Whitson when he thought the astronauts would be on Mars after signing a new bill outlining such a project. After he signed the legislation, Trump should have had an idea, but he didn't. "Well, according to the bill you made, it will be around the 2030s," Whitson replied.
Probably, it may be more difficult to understand the time limit for Mars travel specified in the law than simply remembering the fact that Trump was confused about his recent call to space. Certainly the latter mistake is more outrageous for its ignorance. The difference between the "all women" space path and the "female" space path may seem small, but in fact it is a huge detail that reveals the depth of Trump's indifference to history and his deep inability to grasp critical details.