The All-Female Spacewalk That Wasn't

Katie Ramirez
December 10, 2019

Two more women, Mary Lawrence, lead flight director, and Jackie Kagey, lead spacewalk flight controller, were also scheduled to take part from Houston.

McClain joined NASA astronaut Nick Hague for the first spacewalk in this series on March 22.

"Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch were scheduled to "walk in space" on March 29, however, "[.] mission managers made a decision to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station", the NASA said in a statement.

The space agency says that there is another medium torso on the station, but that it was safer to simply swap around the duty roster for the walks rather than rushing the other torso into service. The second spacewalk will be nearly identical to last week's spacewalk, only the astronauts will be replacing a separate batch of batteries.

Both McClain and Koch were members of Nasa's 2013 astronaut class, 50 per cent of which was made up of women, Nasa said.

A spacewalk is defined by NASA as "anytime an astronaut gets out of a vehicle while in space".

It is important to note that this announcement doesn't mean there isn't a properly-sized suit for McClain to use in orbit.

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The two astronauts were due to leave the ISS to install new batteries on the outside of the station.

The first all-women spacewalk outside the International Space Station (pictured) has been put on hold due to a lack of fitting spacesuits.

McClain is only the 13th woman to perform a spacewalk (Koch is expected to be the 14th) since Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first in 1984. The first female NASA spacewalker was Kathryn Sullivan, also in 1984. This particular spacewalk on 29 March will be to upgrade the batteries on the space station. They were among the four women selected (eight were chosen out of around 6,100 applicants) after a year-and-a-half application process and rigorous testing.

The crew change certainly makes the March 29 spacewalk less exciting for the public, but ultimately, most spacewalks are just another highly complicated station maintenance trip.

For time spent outside, astronauts wear an EMU (extravehicular mobility unit) spacesuit, created to work as a personal spacecraft for the person inside it.

NASA's extravehicular activity (EVA) suits are actually considered to be "personal spacecraft" created to keep a human alive in the harsh environment of space.

In 2017, the agency released an audit of the suits now used on the ISS, outlining concerns about the age of the equipment which might not even last until the station's planned retirement in 2024.

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