Published: Thu, March 28, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

NASA responds to backlash over cancellation of first all-female spacewalk

NASA responds to backlash over cancellation of first all-female spacewalk

Only one medium-sized spacesuit is now available aboard the International Space Station - where Koch and McClain are staying with four American, Canadian and Russian men.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch and McClain were originally slated to head out into the vacuum of space together to continue work on a project to upgrade the batteries for the station's solar power system. However, the agency announced on Monday (March 25) that astronaut Nick Hague would be taking McClain's place, due to a spacesuit sizing issue. However, during McClain's recent spacewalk it became clear that the medium sized suit fit her body better in space, which left NASA in a bit of a pickle.

According to sources only one space suit could be made available by Friday, 29 March and Koch will wear it, NASA said.

However, after McClain successfully completed that first spacewalk wearing the medium suit, she decided that she would rather not size up to a large for her second spacewalk.

She also stressed that "the original pairing was not intentionally planned to bring about the first all-female spacewalk, it was just the way it worked out".

When NASA reconfigured its first all-female spacewalk-set to make history at the International Space Station on Friday-because there weren't enough medium-sized spacesuits readily available for both women astronauts, people had opinions.

"In this case, it's easier (and faster!) to change spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacesuit".

"This decision was based on my recommendation", McClain tweeted today (March 27). It made me feel awkward and uncomfortable - though, . "We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated", McClain tweeted.

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

The Nasa announcement was met with disappointment on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue.

On this action of NASA, some people including USA presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were not happy. But it's not that simple. However, figuring out what size spacesuit an astronaut needs is a bit more complicated than simply taking measurements and trying on things like you would if you were being fitted for a business suit at a clothing store on Earth. So, in support of McClain, Orangetheory has offered to fund the creation of a new spacesuit tailored to fit women. This is partly due to the effects of microgravity, or weightlessness.

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