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NASA: All-female spacewalk canceled due to spacesuit issues

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, left, working on the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Kock, right, during training. The two astronauts will make up the first all-female spacewalking team in March. (Image: NASA)

What was intended to be a historic occasion for NASA and humankind, will no longer be due to a lack of spacesuits onboard the International Space Station. The first all-female spacewalk, scheduled to take place March 29, will now be conducted by a man and a woman — NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch.

Originally supposed to be conducted by American female astronauts Anne McClain and Koch, McClain is now tentatively scheduled to perform her second spacewalk with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques on April 8.

Why the change-up? Quite simply, there's only one spacesuit that best fits both female astronauts.

"McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso – essentially the shirt of the spacesuit – fits her best," NASA announced Monday. "Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it." 

This Friday will mark the second in a series of three spacewalks for the Expedition 59 crew. The first spacewalk, conducted by Hague and McClain on March 22, set out to install lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station's solar arrays. Now, Hague and Koch will finish replacing the old nickel-hydrogen batteries with the advanced lithium-ion batteries during the second spacewalk. 

Friday's spacewalk is scheduled to start at 8:20 a.m., but live coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. on NASA TV. This will be the 215th spacewalk for the space station and if everything goes accordingly, Koch will be the 14th woman to perform a spacewalk. 


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