CAP CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) – NASA has eliminated the first exit in the all-female space on a big problem.
Astronaut Anne McClain was due to leave the International Space Station on Friday with Christina Koch, a newcomer, to replace the old batteries. But McClain is removed from the list because there is not enough time to prepare two medium costumes. Koch is going out with a teammate, Nick Hague.
NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said Tuesday that McClain had trained before the flight in medium and large suits. She was wearing a medium on her first outing in space last Friday and was expected to move to a big one this week. But after going out into space last week, she decided that a big one would be too big.
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According to Dean, it would have taken 12 hours to prepare another medium-sized space suit and potentially compromise safety. These spacewalks are several months late and, with the arrival of cargo, NASA wants to keep everything on track.
In 54 years of release in space, women have only gone out with men. This is because men have always outnumbered women in space. As women continue to make up a larger percentage of the astronauts' bodies, more gender records will be set, not just when going out into space, Dean said.
McClain, Koch and Hague are part of the NASA astronaut class in 2013, the only time the same number of women as men has been accepted. NASA chose four women and four men that year.
Koch and The Hague will continue the work of battery replacement started last Friday by McClain and The Hague in front of the space station. The old nickel-hydrogen batteries in the solar power grid are being replaced by new, powerful lithium-ion batteries.
McClain will have another chance to wander in space on April 8 when she will venture out with Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques. There are six US space suit uppers on the station – or hard upper torso, as NASA calls them – with two spares. The Hague and Saint-Jacques are both big.