Monday, 22 April, 2019

NASA cancels all-female spacewalk, cites lack of well-fitting spacesuits

American astronaut Anne Mc Clain at work at the International Space Station American astronaut Anne Mc Clain at work at the International Space Station
Andrew Wong | 27 March, 2019, 03:45

Specifically, during McClain's spacewalk with her colleague Nick Hague on March 22, she learned that a medium-size hard upper torso-basically the "shirt" of the suit-fits her best. However, only one has been configured for Friday's spacewalk, for Koch to wear. The class had an equal split between women and men.

Earlier this month, NASA announced plans for the first all-female spacewalk.

There are now six spacesuits on board, including two in medium size, according to Stephanie Schierholz, spokesperson for NASA spaceflight.

McClain set out for the International Space Station in December, according to her biography.

Concerns over the fit of the spacesuits - more specifically, the fact that only one medium-sized torso component will be available for the spacewalk - have led to McClain being pushed from the lineup.

So far only male or mixed male-female teams have conducted spacewalks.

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Since only one medium-size torso can be made ready by March 29, Ms. Koch will wear it, the US space agency said in a statement.

Army Lt. Col. Anne McClain and Christina Koch, two NASA astronauts with Expedition 59, had been scheduled to operate the spacewalk, but mission managers made a decision to switch so that Koch and NASA astronaut Nick Hague could operate the assignment.

Astronaut Christina Koch - a MI native - is still set for the scheduled Friday, March 29 spacewalk outside of the International Space Station. McClain says that the medium fits her best, and there is only one available for Friday, so Koch will be using it. Friday's spacewalk, to upgrade batteries on the space station, is expected to last around seven hours.

But if and when the scheduling rotation again allows for an all-female crew to conduct a spacewalk, Sullivan did share a piece of advice for the crew inspired by her experiences in space.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague, left, and Anne McClain work to replace batteries on the P4 truss. "Chances are they're going to see space again at some point and, as much as we can, we'd like to make them veteran spacewalkers".

McClain and Saint-Jacques are now planned for an April 8 spacewalk, which includes several space station maintenance tasks.

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