NASA Cancels First All-Female Spacewalk Over Spacesuit Sizes

It hadn’t been planned as a historic mission, yet it would have represented a moment of sorts: the first all-female spacewalk.

But that moment will have to wait, NASA said Monday, because of a somewhat basic issue — spacesuit sizes.

The two astronauts who were scheduled to walk together in space on Friday, Anne C. McClain and Christina H. Koch, would both need to wear a medium-size torso component. But only one is readily available at the International Space Station.

The mission itself is unchanged. On Friday, two astronauts will venture outside of the space station on a six-hour mission to install massive lithium-ion batteries that will help to power the research laboratory. Ms. Koch is still scheduled to participate, along with her fellow astronaut Nick Hague; Ms. McClain did her first spacewalk last week.

After the rescheduling on Monday, Ms. Schierholz said that while there were no concrete plans for an all-female spacewalk, one is increasingly likely because NASA astronauts have been diversifying in terms of gender.

“We’re sort of getting to the point of inevitability,” Ms. Schierholz said of an all-female EVA.

Ms. McClain and Ms. Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class, and of the eight people in that class — chosen from more than 6,000 applicants — half were women, a first for NASA. The agency lists 38 active astronauts on its website, and 12 are women.

The current roster of six astronauts at the space station — three Americans, one Canadian and two Russians — allows the team to carry out a number of important projects, with an eye toward making sure each crew member accumulates significant experience, Mr. Todd said. NASA officials hope the relatively young American astronauts will continue to travel to space in the coming years and assist new recruits in the future.

The batteries being installed on this mission store solar power that the station needs when it is not in direct sunlight. Work on the battery systems will continue for the next few years as international teams bring more lithium-ion batteries to the station, which is more than 200 miles from Earth.

The missions require meticulous planning, and robots do as much of the work as possible before astronauts take the risk of venturing into space. In the busy days ahead of a spacewalk, the crew help to prepare and fit their colleagues’ spacesuits, which function as mini-spacecraft once they step outside.

Ms. Koch shared photos on Twitter of her colleagues as they suited up for last Friday’s spacewalk.

“No ordinary battery swap & work day routine,” she wrote.

Sahred From Source link Technology

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