Published: Fri, March 29, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

How The First All-Female Spacewalk Could Be Foiled By A Spacesuit

How The First All-Female Spacewalk Could Be Foiled By A Spacesuit

What should have been a giant leap for womankind has turned into a stumble on the path to equality after United States space agency NASA cancelled the first all-female spacewalk because a lack of a spacesuit in the right size.

Half the reason this spacewalk was so fantastic was because it was taking place during Women's History Month, but the mission was scrapped because there was only one size medium spacesuit in the entire International Space Station.

McClain conducted her first spacewalk on March 22 to become the 13th woman to perform an extravehicular activity.

NASA has two medium-sized hard upper torsos on the ISS, but one was not configured for a spacewalk - and the space agency made a decision to change the astronaut instead. She will become the 14th woman to perform a spacewalk.

"Anne and Christina will have the opportunity to be the first all-female EVA, which I think will be a proud moment for NASA, if the assignments stay as they planned", Lawrence said at that briefing. Two astronauts will still head outside the space station to install batteries to power the research laboratory.

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

GREENFIELDBOYCE: And you can imagine that some women were kind of annoyed about this because spacewalking is one of the most prestigious things you can do as an astronaut.


The first Jewish woman in space was the late Judith Resnik, she perished in the 1986 Challenger disaster. Depending on how long they stay with the organization, they may even be among the first crew to go to Mars, a nine-month-long voyage 25 million miles away. Unfortunately, there'll only be one suit available in this size - and it also fits Koch.

But Nasa spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said in an email Tuesday to The Washington Post that both women need a medium-sized hard upper torso - the shirt of the spacesuit - and there is only one medium-sized suit on the space station that is ready for use.

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.

"In this case, it's easier (and faster!) to change spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacesuit". According to the Guardian, there have only been four times in the history of spaceflight that an expedition had two women crewmembers trained for spacewalks.

Another factor, he said, was giving spacewalk experience to as many astronauts as possible.

As women continue to make up a greater percentage of the astronaut corps, more gender records will be set and not just in spacewalking, Dean noted.

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