A spacesuit sizing issue has prompted NASA to reshuffle assignments for a pair of upcoming spacewalks at the International Space Station, cancelling a first-ever all-woman spacewalk and in the process turning what had been an accidental public relations coup for the agency into a headache.
Marking the 215th ISS spacewalk, Koch and Hague will venture into the cosmos on Friday to install lithium-ion batteries for two of the station's solar arrays. She said two upper parts in each of the three available spacesuit sizes are now held at the space station: medium, large and extra large.
Ms Koch will now conduct Friday's spacewalk with her male colleague Nick Hague, the space agency says.
There is more than one medium size spacesuit torso on board the International Space Station, Nasa explained, but it would not be able to make it available in time.
The problem, according to NASA, is spacesuit availability.
The outlet reported that McClain had initially meant to wear a large-sized suit, before deciding she would feel more comfortable in a medium-sized suit during a spacewalk last week. This particular spacewalk on 29 March will be to upgrade the batteries on the space station.
The mission will now go on with Koch and Hague at the helm, who will be replacing batteries on the station that were installed past year. Two of the women have something the earliest female astronauts couldn't: Military backgrounds. Because only one spacesuit of that size can be made ready by Friday, Koch will take the next turn and wear it.
McClain is scheduled to make her next spacewalk on April 8.
Still, if the spacewalk had happened, it would've been the first to be led by women in space and on the ground, with Kirsten Facciol of the Canadian Space Agency on console, Mary Lawrence as lead flight controller, and Jackie Kagey lead spacewalk flight controller. McClain is the 13th woman spacewalker in history, and Koch will soon become the 14th. "The latest class of NASA astronauts, selected in 2013, includes four women and four men". She holds a Bachelor's Degree in electrical engineering and physics and a Master's Degree in electrical engineering.
She wore a medium when she went out on her first spacewalk last Friday and was supposed to switch to a large this week.