Published: Tue, March 26, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA scrubs first all-female spacewalk over suit sizing

NASA scrubs first all-female spacewalk over suit sizing

Earlier this month, when the first all-women spacewalk was announced, NASA spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz noted that the history-making walk was coincidental and "not orchestrated to be this way".

McClain conducted her first spacewalk with male astronaut Nick Hague on March 22.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain during her March 22 spacewalk.

The March 29 assignment was supposed to be the first all-female spacewalk, but there won't be enough of the correctly-sized spacesuits ready in time for Friday, so it will be performed by a man and a woman instead, a NASA press release said Monday.

As The Verge writes, the decision has been made to change the people walking/wear already prepared suits, rather than try to reconfigure the spacesuits they have by Friday - which would involve adding arms and legs segments to a second medium-size torso. McClain and Koch were set to go out together on Friday to continue work on installing powerful lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station's solar arrays.

A scheduled all-female spacewalk has been cancelled by NASA because of a lack of spacesuits in the proper size.

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In so doing, Koch will become the 14th woman to complete a spacewalk, after McClain, who was the 13th. It was during that mission, NASA said, that McClain discovered "a medium-size hard upper torso - essentially the shirt of the spacesuit - fits her best". Koch needs the same size spacesuit, but there's only one now available on the station.

The NASA website shows the spacewalk will last about seven hours.

As for the third spacewalk in the series, McClain is tentatively scheduled to be joined by Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques on April 8.

McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women, and came from the second largest number of applications NASA ever has received, more than 6,100. Both astronauts are part of the Expedition 59 commanded by Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.

Koch will now be partnered with male astronaut, Nick Hague.

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