All-Female Spacewalk Cancelled Due To Lack Of Smaller Spacesuits

NASA astronauts Anne McClain left and Christina H. Koch were set to take part in the spacewalk March 29

In a disappointing turn of events, NASA announced Monday that it would have to postpone its first-ever female spacewalk to another date - due to a lack of available space suit sizes for its female astronauts.

Nasa said the two female astronauts had prepared to continue work outside the International Space Station installing lithium-ion batteries for the space station's solar arrays.

She said two of the upper parts in three available spacesuit sizes are now held at the ISS: medium, large and extra large.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Yeah. So NASA said that last week when Anne McClain went, she was the 13th woman to go spacewalking.

They added: "Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it".

That's also the size suit that fits Koch best - but only one is available for Friday's seven-hour spacewalk.

The NASA announcement was met with disappointment and anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue.

All 214 walks undertaken since the International Space Station was built in 1998 have been carried out either by two men or a man and woman. The first walk was done by McClain and Hague earlier this month, and Friday, Koch and McClain were sent to finishing it up. Spacewalks, in particular, are physically demanding and often one of the most risky tasks an astronaut can perform.

McClain worked outside the station last week - with Hague - when she realized that a "medium"-sized upper half of her spacesuit fit her better".

The plan is for the pair to lay out jumper cables between the Unity module and the S0 truss, at the midpoint of the station's backbone, during their April 8 spacewalk. Koch will become the fourteenth on Friday, says NASA.

Since there is only one medium-sized suit now prepped for Friday's spacewalk, NASA chose to switch out the assignments for this EVA.

Preparing a spacesuit for exposure to the vacuum of space is no easy task.

In the entire history of space exploration, less than 11% of the more than 500 people who have been to space have been female. Data from the Society of Women Engineers shows that, between 2011 and 2016, there was a whopping 54 percent increase in bachelor's degrees awarded in engineering and computer science to women (with 5.6 percent awarded to women of color). We're now going to have to wait longer for the first all-female spacewalk.

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