NASA nixes all-women spacewalk after suit issue

Grand Rapids
Christina Koch NASA 031419_1552578294396.jpg.jpg

(WOOD) — NASA has nixed its first all-women spacewalk because it won’t have enough properly sized spacesuits in time for the event.

Friday’s spacewalk at the International Space Station was originally scheduled to include Grand Rapids native Christina Koch and fellow astronaut Anne McClain. They would’ve been the first all-women team to execute a spacewalk, coincidentally coinciding with Women’s History Month.

However, NASA announced Monday that mission managers decided to swap Nick Hague for McClain partly because of “spacesuit availability on the station.”

The agency said McClain learned during her first spacewalk on March 22 that a medium-size hard upper torso — “essentially the shirt of the spacesuit” — fits her best. Since only one medium version of the suit would be available in time, mission managers decided Koch will wear it.

A spokeswoman for NASA told NBC News there are spare medium-sized hard upper torso spacesuit components on the ISS, but they would need to be configured before use. NASA said the extra work would throw off the mission’s schedule.

“…it’s safer & faster to change spacewalker assignments than reconfigure spacesuits,” NASA tweeted Tuesday.

During the March 29 spacewalk, Koch and Hague will continue installing lithium ion batteries for a pair of the station’s solar arrays.

NASA says Koch will officially become the 14th woman to perform a spacewalk when she heads out of the hatch around 8:20 a.m. Friday.

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