NASA Shut Down All-Female Space Walk

Friday, 29 Mar, 2019

The all-female walk was meant to mark the conclusion of Women's History Month.

Astronauts conducting a spacewalk will generally wear atleast two kinds of space suits during their time away from Earth.

And then, it was canceled. Flight director Mary Lawrence and lead spacewalk officer Jacklyn Kagey, as well as Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, were on-hand to support the astronauts from the ground, rounding out the women's team.

While this isn't exactly the giant leap forward for womankind we had hoped for, it's been said by Emily Lakdawalla, a senior editor at USA non-profit The Planetary Society, that an all-female space walk "will eventually happen".

The NASA announcement was met with disappointment and anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue.

The agency said in a statement that it made a decision to adjust its assignments "in part" due to "spacesuit availability at the station".

But Nasa says the ISS has only one medium-size hard upper torso spacesuit that fits best each of the two women. However, one of the astronauts was switched out this week because of a lack of "spacesuit availability". And they said, all of the active astronauts do fit into the existing sizes.

The spacesuits are not as a simple task as what we think. "Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, Mar. 29, Koch will wear it". McClain will do another spacewalk on April 8 using the medium-sized suit.

Two mediums existed on the ISS, but only one was prepped for a spacewalk.

The spacewalk is still set for Friday, though the work of installing lithium-ion batteries on the station's solar panels will continue with NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Anne McClain switching places.

Koch will become the 14th on Friday. It will be the second spacewalk of a series of three that NASA has planned. They were among the four women selected (eight were chosen out of around 6,100 applicants) after a year-and-a-half application process and rigorous testing. Spacewalks are strenuous as it is; if an astronaut truly feels their suit isn't the right fit, it does seem better to err on the side of caution than encourage them to go ahead regardless.

In the entire history of space exploration, less than 11% of the more than 500 people who have been to space have been female.