NASA has cancelled the first all-woman spacewalk after discovering that they don’t have a spacesuit available that properly fits astronaut Anne McClain. In a statement issued on Monday, NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz explained that McClain expressed reservations about the suit’s fit after participating in a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) last week.
“Anne trained in ‘M’ and ‘L’ and thought she could use a large but decided after Friday’s spacewalk a medium fits better,” wrote Schierholz. “In this case, it’s easier (and faster!) to change space-walkers than reconfigure the spacesuit.”
Friday’s spacewalk, Schierholz added, will instead be conducted by astronaut Christina Koch and a yet to be named male colleague.
On social media, a number of space enthusiasts expressed frustration with the news, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who had exactly three words for NASA: “Make another suit.”
Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor of the Planetary Society, wrote on Twitter that she was “super disappointed” to hear about the decision, but that she was “also super supportive of astronauts having the authority to say ‘I would be safer using a different piece of equipment.’”
“An all-woman spacewalk WILL eventually happen,” she added.
But the fiasco, which began with NASA trumpeting the all-woman spacewalk as one giant leap for feminism, instead only seemed to highlight the fact that women often must conform to a world designed for men.
According to Space.com, fitting astronauts for spacesuits is complicated by the fact that microgravity in space effectively makes people taller than they would be on Earth. Earlier this month, McClain revealed that she was 2 inches taller on the ISS than when she launched.
McClain became the 13th woman ever to conduct a spacewalk last week, and Koch is slated to become the 14th when she heads outside the ISS on Friday.
Read the full story at The Guardian.