American astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch who were to carry out the first-all female spacewalk, which was supposedly cancelled due to a shortage of the right-sized spacesuit on the ISS, say the plan was altered as a matter of safety. According to them, efficiency comes first, the FoxNews reported.
Astronaut Christina Koch along with Anne McClain had to take a spacewalk on March 29, which was to mark a historic event as the first-all female spacewalk, was cancelled by NASA due to a work in progress on a second set of battery replacements on a power channel on the International Space Station (ISS).
Nick Hague, a NASA astronaut, tweeted:
It was an overwhelming experience to be able to perform a spacewalk with 2 of my good friends, classmates, & now crewmates. Going out & accomplishing difficult tasks with @Astro_Christina as we floated above our beautiful planet was a special moment. Next spacewalk is on 4/8/2019 pic.twitter.com/03Yj1izMZy
— Nick Hague (@AstroHague) April 3, 2019
Another astronaut David Saint-Jacques wrote:
Ce matin, Anne et moi avons aidé nos amis Christina et Nick à revêtir leur combinaison pour la sortie spatiale! pic.twitter.com/tpBAZHnEcj
— David Saint-Jacques (@Astro_DavidS) March 29, 2019
However, NASA decided to change the assignments “due in part to spacesuit availability on the station,” the US agency had said in a statement.
Since there was only one medium-sized hard upper torso at the space station available, Koch took the spacewalk along with astronaut Nick Hague, operating the assignment, a NASA press release said.
“That was actually based on my recommendation,” astronaut Anne McClain told “Today” from the International Space Station.
“I think, as the lead for the US segment up here on the Space Station, we are always looking at ways to make our team and our job execution the most efficient that we possibly can,” she added.
McClain later took to Twitter to give a formal clarification of the decision taken. She wrote, “This decision was based on my recommendation. Leaders must make tough calls, and I am fortunate to work with a team who trusts my judgement.”
This decision was based on my recommendation. Leaders must make tough calls, and I am fortunate to work with a team who trusts my judgement. We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated. Safety of the crew and execution of the mission come first. https://t.co/VU9QNaHHlK
— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 27, 2019
“We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated. Safety of the crew and execution of the mission comes first.”
Talking about the spacesuit issue stalling the all-woman spacewalk which has generated criticism on social media, McClain said, “We kind of just shuffled the crews around. There were no spacewalks that were cancelled. These guys went out the doors Friday. I’m going out the door again next week and we’re certainly looking forward to that,” McClain said.
“The spacesuit is bulky, no matter whats your size,” Koch noted, adding “It’s very important to have a great fit and we’re lucky that we can all get out there and kind of push through those challenges.”
Earlier in a press release, NASA announced that “the mission managers decided to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station. McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso – essentially the shirt of the spacesuit – fits her best. Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it.”
On March 22, Hague and McClain operated the first spacewalk from a series of three. On March 29, Koch took her first spacewalk. As per reports, McClain will perform her second spacewalk on April 8, for the third of the series, and will be accompanied by Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques.