The first all-female spacewalk, originally scheduled for this Friday, March 29, has been dumped because they couldn’t get two lady-size spacesuits ready in time, according to a statement from NASA.
Does that sound like a joke? Because apparently it is a real thing that happened.
NASA explains Anne McClain and Christina Koch were scheduled on Friday for the second of three spacewalks at the International Space Station, but they have since discovered that they only have one spacesuit that fits both women ready and available on the station. What they each need is “essentially the shirt of the spacesuit“, a “medium-size hard upper torso“.
As The Verge writes, the decision has been made to change the people walking/wear already prepared suits, rather than try to reconfigure the spacesuits they have by Friday – which would involve adding arms and legs segments to a second medium-size torso.
Still, if the spacewalk had happened, it would’ve been the first to be led by women in space and on the ground, with Kirsten Facciol of the Canadian Space Agency on console, Mary Lawrence as lead flight controller, and Jackie Kagey lead spacewalk flight controller.
The one is ready will be worn by Koch, and she’ll be accompanied on the spacewalk by Nick Hague, who conducted the first in the series with McClain last Friday, March 22.
In so doing, Koch will become the 14th woman to complete a spacewalk, after McClain, who was the 13th.
The work of the first and second spacewalks is to install lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station’s solar arrays, which basically means their solar panels (sidebar: the fact that the International Space Station also uses solar panels is neat as hell).
McClain is now expected to complete the third spacewalk, along with the Canadian Space Agency’s David Saint-Jacques. It’s purpose is to lay out jumper cables between the Unity module and the So truss, which will establish a path of power to the station’s robotic arm – made by the CSA – Canadarm2. They’ll also install cables to improve their wireless connectivity and hardwired computer network capability in space. To me, that means they’re helping make the Wi-Fi better IN SPACE.
Okay seeing a lot of negativity on here, but I just updated our post: this was apparently due to an astronaut’s decision about what she feels most comfortable wearing during an EVA. So keep that in mind. https://t.co/Jz2GMSejsT
— Loren Grush (@lorengrush) March 25, 2019
We have another medium size spacesuit segment on the station; Anne trained in M and L and thought she could use a large but decided after Friday’s spacewalk a medium fits better. In this case, it’s easier (and faster!) to change spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacesuit.
— Stephanie (@schierholz) March 25, 2019
I’m suuper disappointed about the all-woman spacewalk not happening as scheduled this Friday but I’m also super supportive of astronauts having the authority to say “I would be safer using a different piece of equipment.” An all-woman spacewalk WILL eventually happen. https://t.co/LRob2RHvxq
— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) March 25, 2019
If you would like to watch what is now a not very historic spacewalk on Friday, it’ll be streaming live from approximately 10.30pm AEDT, with the walk scheduled to begin after midnight HERE.