Poorly fitting spacesuits have forced NASA to cancel its first attempt at an all-female spacewalk.
Astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain were due to walk around the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) on March 29, but in a press release, the space agency announced that it had changed its plans “due in part to spacesuit availability on the station”.
The problem involves the top part of the spacesuit. “McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso – essentially the shirt of the spacesuit – fits her best,” NASA said. “Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it.”
Astronaut Nick Hague will take McClain’s place, and join Koch replacing batteries on the space station’s solar arrays.
It might seem like a strange oversight, but as Space.com explains, fitting for spacesuits can be tricky due to the effects of microgravity. Astronauts’ spines aren’t compressed as they would be on Earth, which means they essentially become taller after some time in space.
It’s not clear whether this was the reason for the lack of suitable equipment on the ISS, but this month McCain tweeted that she is now two inches taller than when she left Earth in December.
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/A89tJauyQu4 March 2019
Welcome to TechRadar’s Space Week – a celebration of space exploration, throughout our solar system and beyond. Visit our Space Week hub to stay up to date with all the latest news and features.