NASA cancels all-female spacewalk due to spacesuit sizing issue

Enlarge ImageNASA astronauts Christina Koch Anne Mc Clain and Nick Hague make up half the current ISS crew.                  NASA

Enlarge ImageNASA astronauts Christina Koch Anne Mc Clain and Nick Hague make up half the current ISS crew. NASA

It was to be an inspiring end to Women's History Month, with Anne McClain and Christina Koch becoming the first female duo to conduct a spacewalk installing batteries outside the space station.

NASA announced March 25 that Anne McClain, who performed a spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague March 22, won't participate in another spacewalk scheduled for March 29 with Christina Koch.

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch, now on board the International Space Station, were due to head outside the station for a full day of maintanence work on Friday, assisted on the ground by Kristen Faccio, from the Canadian Space Agency. According to The Guardian, Anne McClain, one of the two women on the mission scheduled for Friday, will be replaced by a male colleague due to a lack of gear in her size.

"We've seen your comments about the spacesuit availability for Friday's spacewalk", the agency said in a Facebook post.


Before NASA's announcement, we spoke with former NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to go on a spacewalk, about the potential of that historic moment.

She will wear the medium-size suit used by McClain on a spacewalk with Hague last week.

It turns out that NASA had only one medium-size spacesuit available and both of the astronauts require that size, Space.com noted.

But if and when the scheduling rotation again allows for an all-female crew to conduct a spacewalk, Sullivan did share a piece of advice for the crew inspired by her experiences in space.


As part of Expedition 59, the astronauts were set for a series of three spacewalks to complete work on the ISS. That's despite there having been 216 spacewalks since the beginning of the ISS in 1998.

McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women, and came from the second largest number of applications NASA ever has received, more than 6,100.

Nasa's plans for an all-female spacewalk have fallen through - at least in part because the agency doesn't have enough spacesuits that fit the astronauts.

Koch is a native of MI and graduated from N.C. State University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Physics and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, says NASA.


When asked to react to the news, Roberta Bondar, Canada's first female astronaut, said this "should be a wake-up call". Years ago, she said, NASA considered arranging an all-female spacewalk on objective. "With the increase in the percentage of women who have become astronauts, compared to men, it is inevitable that women will continue to break new ground".

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