NASA scraps all-female spacewalk over suit sizing dilemma

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

Earlier this month, NASA announced that two female astronauts, Anne McClain and Christina Koch, would participate in a history-making first: an all-woman spacewalk at the International Space Station.

On Earth a spacesuit can weigh up 280 pounds on the ground, without the astronaut in it.

During a spacewalk with astronaut Nick Hague on March 22, McClain determined that she fit better in a medium-sized space suit instead of the larger one she used while training. But after last week's spacewalk, she decided that a large would be too big. After Koch and McClain both realized they required the same size spacesuit, it was discovered that only one could be made by the mission's scheduled date.

Meanwhile, two large suits and one of two extra-large suits are available, Schierholz said.

The problem is, Koch wears the same size - and only one medium-sized torso component is readily available on the space station.

The spacesuits aboard the ISS are assemblies of several parts put together as best adapted to each astronaut's body, explained Brandi Dean, spokeswoman of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas where American astronauts are based.

Anne McClain shared this on Twitter, a brilliant image of her in space, and it just makes me want the all-female walk that much more.

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McClain, Koch and Hague are part of NASA's Astronaut Class of 2013, the only time there have been the same number of women accepted as men.

A historic spacewalk was scheduled to occur this week, with only women operating outside the ISS for the first time ever. "It really is the luck of the draw", Schierholz told Space.com.

"If that's a role that I can serve", she said, "it would be my honor to do that". "We're not here as tokens and toys to play around and make games of", Sullivan said.

McClain added: "Every day is a good day when you're floating".

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the agency's plans to use a commercial rocket for the next Orion crew capsule and the possibility a woman could be the next person to walk on the Moon.

The outlet reported that McClain had initially meant to wear a large-sized suit, before deciding she would feel more comfortable in a medium-sized suit during a spacewalk last week.

At the time, veteran spacewalker Mike Fincke noted that any astronauts on the smaller side "will not be able to have a chance to go outside". And when the agency looked into the issue in 2003, it found that about a third of its female astronauts couldn't fit into existing suits. "Or, do we take that money and turn it towards the suit development for the next generation?"

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