First American woman in space, Petaluma native Nicole Aunapu Mann embarks on a journey into space


CANAVERAL OIL, FL — The first American woman in space went into space Friday to prepare the International Space Station for more solar panels.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann of Petaluma towed the equipment alongside Koichi Wakata of Japan. Their job was to install support struts and brackets to launch new solar panels this summer, part of NASA’s ongoing effort to expand the space station’s electrical grid.

RELATED: Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann is poised to become the first American woman in space

Mann, a Navy colonel and test pilot, became the first American woman in space last fall with SpaceX. He is a member of the Wailakki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Northern California.

Wakata, the Japanese spaceflight leader with five missions, also flew on SpaceX. He helped build the station during the shuttle era.

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Friday was their first spacewalk.

The pair will leave the space station in about a month.

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