Female astronauts were set to break a glass ceiling, but that particular final frontier was foiled by a fairly preventable problem–they didn’t bother bringing two space suits that fit female astronauts.
Earlier this month, NASA announced plans for the first all-female spacewalk. Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch were originally scheduled for the trailblazing all-female mission outside the International Space Station, but now McClain will have to give up her place to a male colleague. Why? Because in all the careful planning and back-up planning and packing that goes into a space trip, NASA somehow overlooked the fact that they needed more than one spacesuit that would fit the women they have onboard. Mission managers have now “updated the assignments” for the spacewalk because they only have one medium-size spacesuit torso available on Friday, March 29, when the space walk is scheduled to take place.
“Anne trained in ‘M’ and ‘L’ and thought she could use a large but decided after [last] Friday’s spacewalk a medium fits better,” a NASA spokeswoman, Stephanie Schierholz, announced on Monday. “In this case, it’s easier (and faster!) to change space-walkers than reconfigure the spacesuit.” What should have been a giant leap for womankind is now nothing but further proof that sexism can space travel.
McClain is now “tentatively scheduled” to perform a spacewalk on April 8.
Spacewalks are a challenge, but the right equipment makes the job easier! Spacesuits are the most important gear. To get the best fit, we've updated the assignments for our March 29 and April 8 spacewalks outside the @Space_Station. Get more details: https://t.co/AoXmgVqKkJ pic.twitter.com/xrCKdMgFXr
— NASA (@NASA) March 25, 2019