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Here's the real reason why NASA had to "break off" this all-female spacewalk



Earlier this month, the world was excited to hear that NASA had planned the first all-female spacewalk. Now, an annoying equipment problem has disappointed many # WomeninSTEM enthusiasts.

Expeditionary Engineers Christina Koch and Anne McClain set out to board the International Space Station (ISS) on March 29 to develop batteries in one of the station's solar arrays.

Despite Wide Media coverage The planning of these crew members – including the fact that women were also at key air traffic control on Earth – was a fortunate coincidence and not a pre-mediated event (maintenance was planned later in the Year).

"It was not orchestrated that way," said NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz when the news first appeared.

But given the fact that female astronauts were undoubtedly under-represented in the ISS missions and space walks over the years, of course, everyone was excited.

That is, NASA has explicitly warned us that things could change with regard to this excursion.

The team thinks it's necessary, "Schierholz wrote in the original press release on the latest Spacewalk schedule.

Now they have exchanged an astronaut who was exchanged for a space suit size problem with a male colleague. In March, NASA announced that McClain was to be replaced by flight engineer Nick Hague, along with battery upgrades, in a previous spacewalk on March 22.

The "Cancellation "The all-female spacewalk is due to the fact that McClain discovered during the incident on March 22, that their best fit for a space suit rum pf is a medium sized and not as big as the team previously suspected.

Extraordinary Activities of NASA (EVA) Suits are actually considered "personal space probes" that serve to keep a person alive in the harsh environment of the universe. They have no male and female versions, but consist of a mix-and-match collection of parts – torso, arms, gloves, etc. – which are available in various sizes to ensure the right fit for any astronaut.

Only a medium-sized torso was ready for the space walk on March 29, and according to NASA's announcement of these updated orders, it is attracted by Koch.

Public reactions in social media sounded a lot like this: "Omg, how NASA does not have enough suits for female astronauts! How did they not see that coming? How embarrassing!"

Not so fast.

Although it's a shame This historic event can not happen now due to a substantial equipment-related deficiency. The current state of affairs is more complicated than just the assertion that NASA does not do justice to female astronauts because of, for example, implicit sexism.

The ISS even has another medium-sized torso on board. But putting on a space suit and leaving the airlock is nothing more than the airy process we normally see in science fiction movies. Although the crew only takes 15 minutes, the crew really needs a lot of time for suit checks and preparation for the EVA in the days leading up to the scheduled date.

According to a tieback by Schierholz McLain actually trained in both sizes of space suit, and the fit was discovered late in the spacewalk schedule. Besides, the job is much more crew than just two people jumping out of the ISS, so NASA came up with the quickest, simplest solution: replace the astronaut, not the suit; Anne trained in M ​​and L and thought she could use a big one, but decided after the spacewalk on Friday that a medium would fit better. In this case, it is easier (and faster!) To change spacemen than to reconfigure the space suit.

– Stephanie March 25, 2019

Besides, NASA does not have enough suits just for female astronauts. You hardly have enough suits, period.

In 2017, the agency published an audit of the suits currently used on the ISS and raised concerns about the age of the equipment, which may not even continue until the planned retirement of the station in 2024. 19659003]

"Of the eleven remaining full and functional space suits, four are on the ISS, and the remaining seven are at various stages of remediation and maintenance on Earth," the audit said. Yikes.

New suits are in the works, but these are associated with extraordinary costs and time, and the funding cuts are impacting the development of replacement products, the Z-Series Pressure Garment System.

29th March Spacewalk is less exciting to the public, but in the end, most spacewalks are just another very complicated station maintenance trip. The correct and secure completion of the task remains the top priority for all involved.

We can only hope that another ISS mission with many amazing astronauts can set this milestone in space exploration. [194559003]


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