First all-female spacewalk cancelled due to lack of spacesuits

Cristina Cross
March 26, 2019

Ms McClain, who Ms Koch was supposed to walk with, was working outside the station when she realised that a medium-sized upper half of her spacesuit fitted her better.

The spacewalk, announced earlier this month, was set to mark a historic moment as the first-ever spacewalk conducted only by women.

The work of the first and second spacewalks is to install lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station's solar arrays, which basically means their solar panels (sidebar: the fact that the International Space Station also uses solar panels is neat as hell).

"Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it", NASA explained. "When they launch on board, we know pretty well what suit size they are but, of course, your body changes slightly in space due to fluid shifts or spine elongation", said Mary Lawrence, a NASA spacewalk flight director, during a March 19 press conference about the spacewalks. This coming Friday, Koch will become the 14th, while McClain's next space journey is scheduled for April 8. To me, that means they're helping make the Wi-Fi better IN SPACE. "It just wasn't something that jumped out at us", he said.

NASA live streamed the spacewalk and also answered questions during the mission. NASA astronaut Nick Hague will take her place.

The New York Times, quoting a NASA spokeswoman, reported that there are two medium-sized torsos now on the ISS but "one has yet to be properly configured for a spacewalk".

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"NASA said fitting spacesuits is tricky".

Delaying the spacewalk would pose other schedule challenges as well.

"In addition, no one training environment can fully simulate performing a spacewalk in microgravity, and an individual may find that their sizing preferences change in space".

McClain, while not participating in this EVA, will take part in another spacewalk.

McClain will be accompanied by Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, though the assignments will be finalized after Friday's spacewalk is finished.

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