In the past 18 years, NASA has done over 210 spacewalks so another one is just routine, right? Not exactly, NASA had, for the first time, set up an all-female, women-led spacewalk operation to happen on March 29th. Unfortunately, it will no longer be all female due to the fact that they did not have enough spacesuits of the right size.
NASA was working to make history this week when people found out that there would be an all-female spacewalk happening on Friday, near the end of National Women’s History Month. Interestingly, the all-female operation had not been planned out that way, the spacewalk was actually supposed to happen in the fall of 2018.
“It was not orchestrated to be this way,”  Stephanie Schierholz, a NASA representative before adding that the spacewalk had experienced some delays. All-female coincidences are likely to continue happening with NASA though. “All three NASA astronauts who will be on the space station are from the 2013 astronaut class that was 50% women. And the most recent class of flight directors was 50% women,” Schierholz said.
Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Hammock Koch were scheduled to perform a routine spacewalk and replace batteries in the International Space Station (the ISS) on March 29th. On the ground, lead flight director Mary Lawrence and spacewalk flight controller Jackie Kagey were going to support McClain and Koch during their walk.
Change of Plans
NASA announced a change in plans on Monday, however, “due in part to spacesuit availability on the station.”  NASA replaced McCain with a male astronaut, Nick Hague, who will be able to fit into the spacesuit on board. “McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso — essentially the shirt of the spacesuit — fits her best,” NASA said in a statement. “Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it.”
We’ve seen your tweets about spacesuit availability for Friday’s spacewalk. To clarify, we have more than 1 medium size spacesuit torso aboard, but to stay on schedule with @Space_Station upgrades, it’s safer & faster to change spacewalker assignments than reconfigure spacesuits. pic.twitter.com/tPisBHaF2p
— NASA (@NASA) March 26, 2019
- ^Tom Murray, Business Insider. “NASA had to cancel the first all-female spacewalk in history because it didn’t have spacesuits in the right size.” INSIDER, 26 Mar. 2019, www.thisisinsider.com/nasa-cancels-all-female-spacewalk-due-to-lack-of-spacesuits-in-right-size-2019-3. (go back↩)
- ^Northon, Karen. “NASA Updates Spacewalk Assignments, Announces Final Preview Briefing.” NASA, 25 Mar. 2019, www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-updates-spacewalk-assignments-announces-final-preview-briefing. (go back↩)