On Monday, NASA issued a press release cancelling the historic all-women spacewalk due to a lack of spacesuits. NASA claims only one correctly sized spacesuit will be accessible by Friday, when the walk was scheduled. Anne McClain, one of the two women set for the mission, is now forced to forfeit her place to a male colleague.
NASA is currently under fire by social media users, and a plethora of people are questioning NASA over their limited number of suit sizes. NASA’s lack of smaller suit sizes disproportionately affects women, who tend to be smaller than their male counterparts.
Arianna Huffington tweeted, “We put a man on the moon but we can’t find a spacesuit that fits a woman by Friday.”
Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch were scheduled for the first all-women spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Friday to swap out batteries. However, during her previous spacewalk, McClain learned that a “medium-sized ‘hard upper torso’ — the part of the modular suits that covers the chest — fit her best.”
NASA did an analysis of spacesuit sizing in 2003, and found that men were not limited by spacesuits, while a third of the women could not fit into the suits, limiting their ability to spacewalk.
Media Resources; NPR 3/26/19, NASA 3/25/19, Twitter 3/26/19, NBC News 3/26/19, NBC News 3/6/19