The two astronauts who were supposed to perform the first all-female spacewalk — scuttled last week due to a scarcity of correctly-sized spacesuits — have spoken out about the altered plans by saying it was just a matter of efficiency.
“That was actually based on my recommendation,” astronaut Anne McClain told “Today” hosts Monday morning from the International Space Station.
“I think, as the lead for the US segment up here on the Space Station, we are always looking at ways to make our team and our job execution the most efficient that we possibly can,” she added.
McClain and Christina Koch, two NASA astronauts with Expedition 59, had been scheduled to operate the spacewalk on March 29, but there weren’t enough of the right sized spacesuits ready in time.
Instead, Koch and NASA astronaut Nick Hague operated the assignment, a NASA press release said.
McClain continued: “We kind of just shuffled the crews around. There were no spacewalks that were canceled. These guys went out the doors Friday. I’m going out the door again next week and we’re certainly looking forward to that.”
“The spacesuit is bulky, no matter what your size,” Koch said. “It’s very important to have a great fit and we’re lucky that we can all get out there and kind of push through those challenges.”
Hague and McClain operated the first spacewalk out of a series of three on March 22.
They began installing lithium-ion batteries for a pair of solar arrays on the International Space Station, according to NASA.
While McClain was on the assignment — which was also her first spacewalk — she found that the best-fitting “shirt” of the spacesuit was medium-sized.
However, there was only one medium-sized hard upper torso at the space station that was ready in time for the March 29 spacewalk, so Koch wore it. It was her first spacewalk.
As of now, McClain will perform her second spacewalk on April 8, for the third of the series and will be accompanied by Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques.
Initially, Hague and Saint-Jacques were scheduled to perform the April 8 spacewalk together.
Spacewalks, also called extravehicular activity (EVA), usually last between five and eight hours and are conducted so that astronauts can make repairs on equipment or carry out experiments. The upcoming spacewalk is expected to last about six and a half hours.