NASA cancels first all-women spacewalk due to lack of small spacesuits

Pablo Tucker
March 30, 2019

Christina Koch will now perform tasks in space Friday with fellow American Nick Hague - instead of Anne McClain as originally planned.

So, NASA chose to swap the crew's spacewalking assignments, with Hague taking McClain's place for the second spacewalk and McClain taking Hague's assignment for the third spacewalk on April 8, when she'll head out with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques.

"Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it", NASA confirmed in a statement. They are designed specifically for the astronaut and the mission.

NASA recently changed plans for which astronauts would conduct these spacewalks. There wouldn't be enough medium-sized spacesuit torsos available in time for the Friday event.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain is pictured during her first spacewalk on March 22.

"NASA's space suit inventory is woefully old and woefully paltry", Sullivan said, highlighting the agency's budget issues. But McClain said the decision had been made in contact with her.

"I'm super disappointed about the all-woman spacewalk not happening as scheduled this Friday but I'm also super supportive of astronauts having the authority to say "I would be safer using a different piece of equipment", wrote Emily Lakdawalla, a senior editor at the U.S. non-profit The Planetary Society.

This is nearly as bad as that time NASA recommended an all-female mission to Mars so that the astronauts wouldn't hook up in space. Umm. Surely when you discover four out of six, or six out of the first eight women astronauts, the small doesn't fit them, you make an extra small.

That's because men have always outnumbered women in space.

But Sullivan remembers that there were differences in how men were accommodated for sizes that fit outside the spectrum of sizes NASA created. The suit does not come as a whole, but rather as a collection of suit parts that come in several sizes, to ensure a comfortable fit for each astronaut.

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