Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

NASA cancels first all-female spacewalk over lack of medium-size spacesuits

In 54 years of spacewalking, women have only gone outside with men

 Flight Engineer Anne McClain looks at a laptop computer screen inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module of the International Space Station. NASA via AP
 Flight Engineer Anne McClain looks at a laptop computer screen inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module of the International Space Station. NASA via AP

The first all-female spacewalk was supposed to begin on Friday, but was cancelled by the American space agency over lack of adequately sized spacesuits.

One of the two women on the mission, Anne McClain, will now have to give up her place to a male colleague because Nasa has two medium-size hard upper torsos on the international space station, but only one properly configured for a spacewalk.

Anne McClain and Christina Koch were scheduled to both walk outside the ISS to install new batteries. In the past, missions have been all-male or male-female.

Nasa said that plans had changed “in part” due to a shortage of outerwear. However, the decision attracted criticism.

Ms McClain had initially said she would wear a large spacesuit but then found a medium-sized one would fit her better. She pulled herself from the line-up because there was not enough time to get two medium suits ready. A male crewmate will be replacing her.

Nasa spokeswoman Brandi Dean said on Tuesday that Ms McClain trained in both medium and large spacesuits.

In 54 years of spacewalking, women have only gone outside with men. Men have always outnumbered women in space and the all-female spacewalk was hailed as a milestone for women’s space exploration.

Updated: March 27, 2019 08:29 AM

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