Friday, 19 April, 2019

First All-Female Spacewalk Aborted Due to Ill-Fitting Suit

Enlarge ImageNASA astronaut Anne Mc Clain during her March 22 spacewalk.                  NASA Enlarge ImageNASA astronaut Anne Mc Clain during her March 22 spacewalk. NASA
Cary Marshall | 29 March, 2019, 01:44

The pair will be working to install powerful lithium-ion batteries for the International Space Station during their mission. What they each need is "essentially the shirt of the spacesuit", a "medium-size hard upper torso".

Since only one medium-size torso can be made ready by March 29, Koch will wear it, the U.S. space agency said in a statement.

The first all-female NASA spacewalk, which had been scheduled for March 29, was canceled because of ― wait for it ― a lack of properly sized suits.

This was in part due to the fact the space agency doesn't have enough space suits that fit the astronauts.

With the changes the human body undergoes while in microgravity, specifically how the spine elongates and how body fluids tend to shift into the torso and head, it made sense that McClain figured the larger suit would be better for her, once she was in space.

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The two female astronauts were to swap out batteries on the outside of the International Space Station.

The six astronauts onboard the International Space Station - three of whom are from the US - are performing Expedition 59, which ends in June.

The mission will now go on with Koch and Hague at the helm, who will be replacing batteries on the station that were installed a year ago. Spacewalks, in particular, are physically demanding and often one of the most unsafe tasks an astronaut can perform. Koch also wears a medium, and Schierholz said although there are two mediums on board, only one of them is in "a readily usable configuration". McClain will do another spacewalk on April 8 using the medium-sized suit. McClain is the 13th woman spacewalker in history, and Koch will soon become the 14th. NASA has been touting this historic all-woman spacewalk for a while now. The two astronauts were part of NASA's astronaut class of 2013, the first in NASA's history to have an equal number of men and women. After the March 22 spacewalk, though, she determined that the medium suit was a better fit for her. An agency spokesperson said it's easier to change the spacewalk crew assignments and keep to the current schedule than to reconfigure the spacesuits and delay the EVAs.

Women make up only 11 percent of those who have gone to space. She later earned master's degrees in aerospace engineering and worldwide relations. McClain, who did her first spacewalk last week, will sit this round out.

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