History-making all-female spacewalk canceled because of lack of right-size spacesuits
3DSculptor/iStock(HOUSTON) — The history-making, all-female spacewalk that was scheduled to happen on Friday, during Women’s History Month, has been canceled by NASA.
The cancellation is due in part to “spacesuit availability,” NASA announced Monday. In other words, the agency did not have enough spacesuits sized for women on the International Space Station.
The spacewalk was supposed to be led by NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch, with the assistance of Kristen Facciol, a Canadian Space Agency flight controller, on the ground in Houston.
Two more women, Mary Lawrence, lead flight director, and Jackie Kagey, lead spacewalk flight controller, were also scheduled to take part from Houston.
McClain, who has been stationed at the International Space Station since December, completed her first spacewalk on March 22 and discovered then that she needed a “medium-size hard upper torso,” or the shirt of the spacesuit, according to NASA.
That is apparently the same size worn by Koch, who arrived at the space station earlier this month. NASA has a limited availability of spacewalking spacesuits and there is only one medium-size top on the space station.
Koch will now do the spacewalk on Friday with a male astronaut, Nick Hague.
McClain is now expected to perform her next spacewalk on April 8 with another male, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, according to NASA.
McClain and Koch are both part of the Expedition 59 crew at the International Space Station. They joined NASA in 2013, the year NASA’s astronaut class was 50 percent female.
A spacewalk is defined by NASA as “anytime an astronaut gets out of a vehicle while in space.” Friday’s spacewalk, to upgrade batteries on the space station, is expected to last around seven hours.
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