The all-female astronaut stroll is again on.
Again on March 26th, 2019, NASA was pressured to cancel the primary all-female spacewalk as a result of they didn’t have the best spacesuits out there on the ISS. There was a short-lived social media storm over that improvement, as some claimed it was proof of sexism on the a part of NASA. However that small storm didn’t have legs and it died out, as a result of no serious-minded observer thinks that NASA is definitely sexist.
Now, the issue has been labored out, and the spacewalk will occur on October 21st, when astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will stroll outdoors the ISS and set up new lithium-ion batteries. There’s is the primary of 5 walks wanted to finish the set up.
The cancellation of the unique spacewalk was all about security, not sexism.
Initially, the 2 astronauts scheduled for the primary all-female spacewalk had been rookie astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch. McClain had already walked in area on that mission on March 2nd, together with Nick Hague. However throughout that stroll, McClain encountered an issue: the torso measurement didn’t match her. In microgravity, an astronaut’s physique stretches, and a go well with measurement that match throughout pool-testing on Earth might not match the identical in area.
After she accomplished her spacewalk, McClain informed NASA floor personnel about it and so they responded with a choice. The twin feminine spacewalk could be break up into two walks, as a result of there was just one go well with with the right torso match for McClain and Koch. It’s unsafe to ship somebody outdoors the ISS with tools that will have an issue with match.
“McClain discovered throughout her first spacewalk that a medium-size arduous higher torso – basically the shirt of the spacesuit – matches her greatest. As a result of just one medium-size torso might be made prepared by Friday, March 29, Koch will put on it,” NASA mentioned in an announcement. In order that they each received to spacewalk, simply not collectively.
Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques seen contained in the Quest airlock changing the Laborious Higher Torso (HUT) on an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) aboard the Worldwide House Station. Changing the Laborious Higher Torso (HUT) can take as much as 12 hours. Picture Credit score: NASA/CSA
Whereas we name them spacesuits, they’re really known as Extravehicular Mobility Items (EMUs.) Although they’re strong, they should be dealt with with care, and used safely. They’re form of modular, to allow them to be configured with completely different torso sections and legs and arms for a greater match. However that takes time, and it’s higher achieved on the bottom. That’s as a result of they will solely be maintained on the bottom, and if one thing goes flawed throughout reconfiguring, the go well with could also be out of fee. That might simply hinder any additional plans.
One other drawback with reconfiguring EMUs on the ISS is the time. It might take as much as 12 hours to interchange the torso, or Laborious Higher Torso (HUT) because it’s known as. Water contained in the go well with should be cleaned and checked for contamination; should be bodily modified out; and the assorted go well with techniques should be verified with the bottom crews to verify the go well with is secure and able to put on.
However time on the ISS is extraordinarily priceless. There’s necessary science to be achieved, upkeep duties and cleansing to carry out, and naturally sleeping and exercising. Utilizing that priceless time to work on EMUs will not be one of the best use of time.
On the time of the cancellation, NASA’s Stephanie Schierholz tried to clear issues up on Twitter.
We have now one other medium measurement spacesuit phase on the station; Anne skilled in M and L and thought she might use a big however determined after Friday’s spacewalk a medium matches higher. On this case, it is simpler (and quicker!) to alter spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacesuit.
— Stephanie (@schierholz) March 25, 2019Shannon Skullrone’s important tweet hasn’t aged effectively.
sure, the unique thought was Anne would use a big for the second spacewalk.
— Stephanie (@schierholz) March 26, 2019
However that’s all historical past now.
It needs to be apparent to any observer that being an astronaut may be very harmful. As if spacewalks aren’t dangerous sufficient, there’s lift-offs and landings, too. Astronaut security is extra necessary than any gender politics. And none of those spacewalks occur in a vacuum. Actions on the ISS are on a strict schedule, with science wants, resupply craft arrivals, and different duties all deliberate upfront.
Fortunately, it’s again on, and the primary all-female spacewalk is more likely to be an historic mission. In an interview on NASA TV, Christina Koch mentioned, “In the long run, I do assume it’s necessary due to the historic nature of what we’re doing and previously, girls haven’t at all times been on the desk.”
Now they’re not solely on the desk, they’re strolling in area.