NASA Cancels First All-Female Spacewalk Due to Lack Of Spacesuit
The first-all female spacewalk by American astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch, which was to take place at the International Space Station has been cancelled due to a shortage of space wear for a female astronaut. NASA, earlier this month, had announced that this historic event would take place on 29 March.
The reason for this cancellation is cited as the shortage of one medium-sized spacesuit at the space station.
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.”
McClain and Koch will both be making history during this mission by being the 13th and 14th women to perform a spacewalk.
McClain took to Twitter to share images of her last spacewalk:
During a spacewalk expedition, astronauts conduct work outside a space shuttle, such as repairs or observations. For that to work, the spacesuit definitely plays a very important role.
Brandi Dean, spokeswoman of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where American astronauts are based, explained that the spacesuits are currently held at the ISS, assembling of several parts put together as best adapted to each astronaut’s body. According to Space.com, Spacesuit sizes are not an easy task.
Till now only male or mixed teams had conducted spacewalk since the space station was assembled in 1998. A total of 214 spacewalks until now have been made.
“We do our best to anticipate the spacesuit sizes that each astronaut will need, based on the spacesuit size they wore in training on the ground, and in some cases, astronauts train in multiple sizes,” Dean said in explaining the problem that hampered Friday’s planned spacewalk.
“However, individuals’ sizing needs may change when they are on orbit, in response to the changes living in microgravity can bring about in a body. 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,” she stated.
The first woman to perform a spacewalk was the Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya, that was 35-years ago. Of the more than 500 people who have been into space, only 11% have been women, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Flight engineers Anne McClain and Nick Hague spent six hours and 39 minutes on their debut spacewalk. They have been working on replacing nickel-hydrogen batteries that power a part of the’ solar arrays of the ISS with lithium-ion versions. The idea behind the effort is to overhaul the power station of the space system, NBC News reported.
NASA live streamed the spacewalk, watch it here:
Feature Image Credit: The Verge