NASA Scraps All-Women Spacewalk for Lack of Well-Fitting Suits


NASA astronaut Anne McClain, who just completed her first spacewalk at the International Space Station on March 22, spoke out in defense of the decision on Wednesday, saying it was based on her recommendation.

Last week, Anne McClain worked outside the station with Hague when she made the realization that it would have been better for her to have a medium-sized upper half of her spacesuit.

McClain made the call after her first spacewalk when she decided she would be more comfortable in a medium suit rather than a large.

USA and Russian Federation have conducted 213 spacewalks with the Americans taking the lead with 160.

Almost 60 years after the first human blasted off into space, less than 11% of the 500-plus people who have travelled to space have been women.

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NASA's official statement on the matter reads: "Koch had been scheduled to conduct this spacewalk with astronaut McClain, in what would have been the first all-female spacewalk".

Others said they were sad that a milestone moment on women's space exploration had been deferred, but safety came first.

In the almost 60 years of human spaceflight, there have only been four times when expeditions included two female members trained for space walks. This is partly due to the effects of microgravity, or weightlessness. That extra space inside the suit can be less noticeable when working in Earth's 1-gravity environment. And, in a nutshell, it all has to do with astronauts growing in size while in orbit. If a suit is too big, an astronaut in space might feel like they're floating around inside of it, making them struggle with mobility. After a spacesuit fit check on March 4, McClain tweeted that she had grown 2 inches (5 centimeters) since she launched into space.

"Mission managers chose to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station", Nasa said.

Even though the cancellation is due to the suits' availability-not their existence-it still begs the question of why there aren't more medium-sized torsos already aboard and ready to go, especially after NASA graduated its most recent class of flight directors, a full 50 percent of whom were women. Evidently, NASA only carries sizes for men.