NC State graduate Christina Koch and fellow astronaut Anne McClain were supposed to do a spacewalk at the International Space Station on March 29. That would've marked the first ever spacewalk featuring only women.
However, NASA said a shortage of correctly sized spacesuits forced the agency to change its plans. McClain and Koch will still get to perform spacewalks, just not together.
On March 22, McClain became the 13th woman to walk in space; Koch posted to Twitter showing the team preparing for that spacewalk.
No ordinary battery swap & work day routine. Pics from suiting up Anne & Nick for their first spacewalk! 7 hours later, success upgrading the batteries that allow us to have power even when we’re shadowed by the Earth from the sun! Great day of teamwork both on and off the Earth. pic.twitter.com/a3R6y2jC7Q— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) March 25, 2019
After her first spacewalk, McClain learned the medium size hard upper torso fits her best. That is the same size Koch prefers. NASA said only one medium is available at this time.
Being in space can impact astronauts' bodies differently. For McClain she said she has grown two inches since leaving Earth, possibly resulting in this sizing conflict.
Earth will learn a lot during his busy week on @Space_Station - today he kept me company while we checked our suit sizing to account for space growth (I am 2 inches taller than when I launched!), then we did some translation adaptation. pic.twitter.com/A89tJauyQu— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 4, 2019
NASA cited the spacesuit sizes as a reason for the changes to the spacewalk assignments.
Koch will perform the March 29 spacewalk with astronaut Nick Hague. That mission will make Koch the 14th woman to perform a spacewalk.
At least during this mission, McClain and Koch will not become the first pair to perform an all-female spacewalk.