NASA cancels all feminine spacewalk, cites lack of well fitting spacesuits

Katie Ramirez
March 30, 2019

Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to participate in a spacewalk on July 25, 1984, Reuters had reported.

But on Monday, the agency announced that male astronaut Nick Hague would be joining Christina Koch for the spacewalk in place of Anne McClain - though that doesn't mean the first All female spacewalk won't happen in the near future.

Now that history-making event has been cancelled, and it's all due to the fit of the spacesuits.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Tuesday said it no longer plans to conduct the first all-female spacewalk mentioning lack of availability of spacesuits in the right size. "We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated", McClain tweeted.

As a result of the rearrangement, Friday's spacewalk will be conducted by Koch and Hague as a female-male duo, during which they will continue the work to install powerful lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station's solar arrays.

"Anne trained in M and L and thought she could use a large but decided after Friday's spacewalk a medium fits better", wrote spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz on Twitter.

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Koch will become the 14th on Friday.

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"Shouldn't NASA's sizing be more specialised than a box of free T-shirts?"

At first glance, the reason seems incredulously trivial - why can't the astronauts just wear a size up like the rest of us earthly beings? When the suits were originally designed for the shuttle program some 40 years ago, NASA had planned to offer a broader range of sizes to accommodate as many astronauts as possible.

In the almost 60 years of human spaceflight, there have only been four times when expeditions included two female members trained for space walks. One of the medium and one of the extra large are spares and need 12 hours to get ready for an EVA. In other words, they built suits to fit the average man.

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