NASA's plans for the Space Station's first all-female spacewalk by space station astronauts this week have all the makings of a historic moment.
But this moment, which happened to have occurred during the Women's History Month (Monday, March 25) when NASA announced would be the shortage of suitably sized spacesuits astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Stop Koch from going out together. The disappointing news came after weeks of anticipation of the milestone in space flight.
After completing her first spacewalk in a large space suit last week, McClain realized that the suit did not allow her to maneuver comfortably or effectively. During the spacewalk, she found she would need a mid-sized upper body for future work outside the International Space Station. While there are two medium-sized suits aboard the space station, only one was prepared for a spacewalk, and it would be a long time before the other suit was prepared. Instead of assigning these extra hours, Nick Hague will take his place on McClain's Square with Cook. While the comfort and safety of astronauts remains the most important aspect of any space mission, this last-minute reallocation seems to emphasize the fact that many women have to overcome additional career barriers that work in a world designed for men. 1
(Image: © NASA)
Prior to NASA's announcement, we spoke with former NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan, the first American to undertake a spacewalk, at the potential of this historic moment.
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Nearly 35 years ago, on October 11, 1984, Sullivan made her first steps in space . The story of these steps was far from over her mind as she focused on her mission of operating a system that showed that a satellite could be filled in orbit. Her spacewalk came just months after cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first female spacewalker on July 25 of the same year.
"If you've ever hoped to make another spacewalk, it would do the first really good." Sullivan said about her focus on the mission.
As the world focused on the historical significance of their work, Sullivan was only there to do their job and do well. But women at NASA, like women working in most occupations, usually encounter more obstacles than their male counterparts. Fortunately, Sullivan said to Space.com, during her time as an astronaut, she had received only one or two rude comments on her gender, perhaps because "NASA's titled astronaut entitled" To Go A Little Into The Navy "would be Admiral Cadet. "In other words, once you've acquired the title of astronaut, people are less likely to cause you trouble.
But while Sullivan reported little or no harassment, the women who turned them into flight controllers, flight controllers and astronauts, "would do much more and deliver much more before they could get that." Rise or promotion so many times that a man would have come up with the first good thing. "Sullivan added that she was, for example, women who are working on a program with someone as a substitute, turning over the program, solving a budget problem, and putting the program back on track.
"A young man who would do that You will probably be catapulted into the project manager the next time," Sullivan said. "When the woman did that as a proxy, she later became the substitute for another person … She did not receive the reward as an additional height and rise, she had another opportunity to clean up."
As the position of McCain and Koch shows, even when a woman has climbed these ladders and proven beyond doubt, there are hurdles.
As Sullivan said, this was not the first time that a purely female crew was being discussed for a spacewalk. Years ago, she said, NASA thought about organizing a spacewalk exclusively for women. The women in the Astronaut Corps, however, were against the idea because it would have been staged as a "stunt" that would only serve to further label them in the industry. "We are not here as toys and toys to play around and play games," said Sullivan.
But "what really gives me the most satisfaction," Sullivan said about the now-canceled spacewalk, "is not a stunt, [it’s a] the result of there being enough women in the astronaut ranks, now in the airline rankings, In the normal course of the assignment rotation, you can end up with more than one woman at the end of a high-stakes event. "
" There will be several women in several key roles … I would argue that That's how it was, but they've gone to the front now, to the front console, to the EVA [spacewalk] to the flight director's chair, "added Sullivan.
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The spacewalk planned for this Friday would have been a triumph. It was not a planned stunt. It was, as Sullivan described, the natural consequence of more women joining the ranks and being recognized for their work.
The next chance in this setup may not be so soon. Only 13 of the 223 astronauts who ran in space were women. Even so, the likelihood of an all-female spacewalk will continue as more and more women become astronauts and take spacewalks.
Perhaps this missed milestone will be a lesson for NASA to prepare the right equipment for crews of all sizes and shapes – something that is already important, as human proportions often change as the spine gets lost in the body Weightlessness slightly prolonged.
But if the planning rotation again allows a purely female crew for a spacewalk, Sullivan gave a piece of advice to the crew, inspired by their experiences in space.
"Make sure you treat yourself to those few moments outside to really get where you are … grab those moments and write them down vividly in your brain, because these are the ones Moments you'll have from the spacewalk long after, "she told the crew