NASA scraps all-women space walk for lack of well-fitting suits

Pablo Tucker
March 29, 2019

Both McClain and Koch required medium spacesuit torso sections, and there is now only one that is properly configured at the International Space Station, NASA said in a statement on Monday.

Dean said spacesuits come in medium, large and extra large sixes.

There are at least two medium-sized spacesuit torsos onboard the ISS. She will serve as the flight engineer for Expeditions 59 and 60 on the International Space Station.

Koch and McClain, along with Hague, were members of NASA's 2013 astronaut class, which consisted of 50 percent women. The reason that McClain was pulled off the roster for the walk has to do with space suit availability.

McClain became the thirteenth woman to perform a spacewalk on March 22.

NASA spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz said on Twitter that McClain had trained in both medium and large spacesuits. But after last week's spacewalk, she decided that a large would be too big.

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. And part of it is just because American women didn't fly in space until the early 1980s, but also, you know, NASA's just had fewer women in the Astronaut Corps. The two will spend 6.5 hours outside the station, continuing the work Hague and McClain started a week before, by swapping out older nickel-hydrogen batteries for new lithium-ion batteries, to upgrade the station's power systems. I love space and often receive gifts from my family with the NASA logo on them because I love learning about all that's out there in the universe, so the idea that the first ever all-female spacewalk was happening during Women's History Month delighted me.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain (R) poses during her final exam at the Gagarin Cosmonauts' Training Centre in Star City outside Moscow on November 14, 2018.

Agency officials, though, emphasized they did not deliberately team up Koch and McClain for that milestone. The center is in the midst of a hectic schedule, finishing up the third of its series of space walks and then sending resupply vehicles to the station in April, which limits the time to spend on the suits.

History's first all-female spacewalk was thwarted by a lack of smaller suits.


Unlike in science fiction films, where astronauts all rush to suit up at once, NASA does not keep space suits on ISS for everyone at all times.

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