NASAWatch On BBC Regarding All-Woman Spacewalk Issue

NASA Updates Spacewalk Assignments, Announces Final Preview Briefing

"Koch had been scheduled to conduct this spacewalk with astronaut McClain, in what would have been the first all-female spacewalk. However, after consulting with McClain and Hague following the first spacewalk, mission managers decided to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station. McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso - essentially the shirt of the spacesuit - fits her best. Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it."

Keith's note: This is what I got from NASA PAO on this issue: "As you know, 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 (including Anne McClain's) astronauts train in multiple sizes. 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.

There is currently only one medium-size hard upper torso - essentially the shirt of the spacesuit - on board the space station that is in a readily usable configuration. Based her experience in the first spacewalk in the series, McClain determined that although she has trained in both medium and large torsos, the medium, which she wore last Friday during the spacewalk, was a better fit for her in space. To accommodate that preference, Koch will wear the medium torso on March 29, and McClain will wear it on April 8.

We have two medium hard upper torsos in space, two larges and two extra larges; however, one of the mediums and one of the extra larges are spares that would require additional time for configuration. Given the very busy operational schedule on board the station this spring - the spacewalks as well as several resupply missions that will begin arriving in April - the teams made the decision to keep the schedule by swapping spacewalkers rather than reconfiguring a spacesuit.

We believe an all-female spacewalk is inevitable. This is made more likely by the increase in the percentage of women who have become astronauts: 50 percent of the 2013 astronaut candidate class are women (including McClain and Koch), and of the 11 members of 2017 astronaut candidate class (which is still in training), five are women.

Anne McClain became the 13th female spacewalker on March 22, and Christina Koch will be the 14ththis Friday. Each spacewalk will coincidentally occur during Women's History Month, with women also filling two key roles in Mission Control: Mary Lawrence as the lead flight director and Jaclyn Kagey as the lead spacewalk officer. NASA looks forward to being able to celebrate the first all-female spacewalk, and other firsts for women, in the future."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on March 26, 2019 12:34 PM.

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