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NASA Announces First All-Female Spacewalk After Previous One Canceled

After a small setback due to a lack of a medium-sized spacesuit, NASA announced that the first all-female spacewalk will commence later this month.

“NASA announced Friday that the International Space Station’s two women will pair up for a spacewalk later this month,” reports Fox News. “Astronauts Christina Koch and the newly arrived Jessica Meir will venture out Oct. 21 to plug in new, upgraded batteries for the solar power system. It will be the fourth of five spacewalks for battery work. The first is Sunday; Koch will go out with Andrew Morgan.”

As Women’s History Month kicked off in March, feminists were ecstatic over news that astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch would be partaking in a historic spacewalk on the International Space Station as part of Expedition 59. Unfortunately, astronaut Ann McClain was unable to participate after discovering her inability to maneuver properly in the large-sized spacesuit. Since NASA could not supply her with a medium-sized spacesuit, McClain was replaced by a male astronaut.

“Last week, NASA astronaut Anne McClain wore a large-sized spacesuit to conduct her first spacewalk, where she helped swap out aging batteries that store energy collected by the station’s solar panels,” reported NPR at the time. “While she was working, she realized that her suit was too big to maneuver in comfortably. Instead of the large, she would need a medium-sized hard upper torso — what NASA calls ‘the shirt of the spacesuit.’”

“Two mediums existed on the ISS, but only one was prepped for a spacewalk,” the report continued. “Instead of devoting extensive crew time to make the extra medium-sized suit space-worthy by Friday, NASA decided to restaff: Nick Hague will go in McClain’s place and do the walk with Christina Koch.”

Speaking with The New York Times, NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said completing the mission was top priority for NASA rather than executing a cultural milestone. “When you have the option of just switching the people, the mission becomes more important than a cool milestone,” she said.

While NASA’s deputy chief astronaut Megan McArthur appreciates the cultural milestone that will be taking place leader this month, she urged reporters that women are well-represented in all-levels at NASA.

In an interview earlier this week, Christina Koch said that she is proud to be participating in such a historic that will be a small step forward for women.

“In the past, women haven’t always been at the table,” Koch said. “And it’s wonderful to be contributing to the human spaceflight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role, and that can lead, in turn, to increased chance for success.”

Unlike other male-dominated industries, NASA rarely gets much attention from feminists, primarily due to the fact that the number of female astronauts in space has been steadily increasing since Sally Ride came onto the scene in 1983.

“To date, nearly 60 American women have flown in space,” according to The Atlantic. “The latest class of NASA astronauts, selected in 2013, includes four women and four men. What’s most interesting … is not the gender parity. Two of the women have something the earliest female astronauts couldn’t: Military backgrounds. One of them, Anne McClain, is an Army major who flew helicopters during combat missions in Iraq.”

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