History-making all-female spacewalk canceled because of lack of spacesuits

10 Décembre, 2019, 12:23 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Nasa has cancelled the first ever all-female space walk outside the international space station after it emerged they did not have enough suits that fit women

Kristen Facciol of the Canadian Space Agency would provide ground support at the Johnson Space Center in Houston as the two astronauts ventured outside of the International Space Station.

Half the reason this spacewalk was so unbelievable 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 had "learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso - essentially the shirt of the spacesuit - fits her best". This was unfortunate because Koch also needed a medium torso unit, but only one could be readied in time for the scheduled spacewalk on Friday.

Because of that issue, mission managers decided Hague will be sent out instead of McClain, and will join Koch on the second spacewalk this Friday.

The mission will now go on with Koch and Hague at the helm, who will be replacing batteries on the station that were installed past year.

A historic spacewalk was scheduled to occur this week with only women operating outside the ISS for the first time ever, but the mission was aborted due to ill-fitting suits. Koch will go out with a male crewmate, Nick Hague.

The news was met with disappointment and some anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue.

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"I'm suuper [sic] 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, '" Emily Lakdawalla, a senior editor at the USA non-profit the Planetary Society, wrote on Twitter.

Since astronauts, for some unusual reason, insist on coming in a variety of sizes, NASA keeps down the number of suits needed by making the EMU modular. This particular spacewalk on 29 March will be to upgrade the batteries on the space station.

In 54 years of spacewalking, women have only gone outside with men. U.S. EVA-53 on March 29 is planned to be the 215th performed at the ISS since 1998.

NASA opened the space program to female applicants in 1978.

In 2017, the agency released an audit of the suits now used on the ISS, outlining concerns about the age of the equipment which might not even last until the station's planned retirement in 2024. These are periodically swapped via cargo ships to allow for refurbishment and fix.

Koch, an electrical engineer, is taking her first space flight, according to NASA. In other words, the agency did not have enough spacesuits sized for women on the International Space Station. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. In space these suits can only be worn in the shuttle.

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