To the dismay of many, NASA is canceling the all-female spacewalk due to the unforeseen unavailability of spacesuit at the International Space Station.
It would have been a historical feat in human space flight to have two women do the spacewalk together, but the event is unfortunately delayed.
No More All-Female Spacewalk
Christina Koch will be walking on space as scheduled on March 29, but not with another female astronaut. She will do the spacewalk with Nick Hague. They will continue work on the installation powerful lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station's solar arrays.
Koch was supposed to conduct the first all-female spacewalk with Ann McClain, but NASA announced the adjusted assignment of astronauts, saying that only one medium-size hard upper torso outerwear can be made in time for the next space excursion on March 29.
During her initial spacewalk last March 22, McClain learned that a medium-sized spacesuit fits her best instead of a large-sized one.
There are at least two medium-sized spacesuit torsos onboard the ISS. NASA mission managers decided that Koch and Hague will wear them instead of reconfiguring the spacesuits before the schedule.
"In this case, it's easier (and faster!) to change spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacesuit," tweeted Stephanie Schierholz, NASA spokesperson
The upcoming spacewalk is the second in a series of three NASA Expedition 59 spacewalks, which are aired live on NASA Television and website.
The four astronauts taking part in the spacewalks are Koch, McClain, Hague, and David Saint-Jacques. Each spacewalk takes about seven hours.
Few Women In Space
McClain was the 13th female astronaut to do the spacewalk, while Koch will be the 14th in NASA's history. Russian pilot and cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya was the second woman in space and the first female to perform the spacewalk on July 25, 1984.
Out of more than 500 individuals who have been to space, less than 11 percent were women. For the past six decades of space flight, there have only been four times when expeditions included two female members trained for spacewalks.
McClain is tentatively scheduled to perform her next spacewalk on April 8 alongside Saint-Jacques from the Canadian Space Agency.
They will lay out jumper cables between the Unity module and the S0 truss at the midpoint of the space station's backbone.
According to NASA, this work will establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2.
The two will also install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the ISS as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.