SALT LAKE CITY — What was supposed to be one small step for woman, one big spacewalk for womankind has been canceled after NASA reported that enough spacesuits could not be configured in time for both participating female astronauts.
Now Anne McClain, one of those astronauts, is speaking out after critics met the cancellation with criticism.
What happened: On Monday, NASA canceled its plans to hold the first all-female spacewalk on March 29 after it was reported that there was only one configured medium-sized, hard upper torso spacesuit aboard the International Space Station.
- McClain was scheduled to conduct the spacewalk with fellow astronaut Christina Koch to install lithium-ion batteries on the station. She said a medium-sized suit, particularly the torso portion of the suit, fits her best.
- Mission managers chose to cancel the spacewalk and Koch will wear the available medium-sized suit as she works with fellow astronaut Nick Hague on installations, according to NASA.
The cancellation of the event was met by skepticism and criticism on social media.
NASA tweeted Tuesday that the walk wasn’t canceled for lack of female suits aboard the International Space Station, which many inferred, but that it was canceled because another suit could not be configured in time for the walk.
McClain is speaking out about the situation now.4 comments on this story
“This decision was based on my recommendation. Leaders must make tough calls, and I am fortunate to work with a team who trusts my judgment,” McClain tweeted Wednesday. “We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated. Safety of the crew and execution of the mission come first.”
McClain later tweeted of Koch and Hague’s Friday spacewalk, “Tune in - history is made every day up here!”
NASA had planned on holding the spacewalk to commemorate National Women’s Month. It would have been supported with an all-women crew at Houston’s Johnson Space Center.