NASA scraps all-women spacewalk for lack of well-fitting suits

Author: 
AFP
ID: 
1553567276652530700
Tue, 2019-03-26 01:47

WASHINGTON: The US space agency NASA scrapped Monday a planned
historic spacewalk by two women astronauts, citing a lack of
available spacesuits that would fit them at the International Space
Station.
Christina Koch will now perform tasks in space Friday with fellow
American Nick Hague — instead of Anne McClain as originally
planned.
Had Koch and McClain done their spacewalk together, it would have
been the first ever by two women astronauts.
Until now, male-only or mixed male-female teams had conducted
spacewalk since the space station was assembled in 1998 — 214
spacewalks until now.
McClain worked outside the station last week — with Hague —
when she realized that a “medium“-sized upper half of her
spacesuit fit her better.
“Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday,
March 29, Koch will wear it,” NASA explained.
The spacesuits aboard the ISS are in fact assemblies of several
parts put together as best adapted to each astronaut’s body,
explained Brandi Dean, spokeswoman of the Johnson Space Center in
Houston, Texas where American astronauts are based.
She said two upper parts in each of the three available spacesuit
sizes are currently held at the ISS: medium, large and extra
large.
“We do our best to anticipate the spacesuit sizes that each
astronaut will need, based on the spacesuit size they wore in
training on the ground, and in some cases astronauts train in
multiple sizes,” she said in explaining the problem that hampered
Friday’s planned spacewalk.
“However, individuals’ sizing needs may change when they are on
orbit, in response to the changes living in microgravity can bring
about in a body.
“In addition, no one training environment can fully simulate
performing a spacewalk in microgravity, and an individual may find
that their sizing preferences change in space.”

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NASA scraps all-women spacewalk for lack of well-fitting suits