NASA reassigns Spokane native Anne McClain, postponing first all-female spacewalk


"After consulting with McClain and Hague following the first spacewalk, mission managers made a decision to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station", NASA said in a statement Monday. Five years later, Sally Ride launched with the seventh Space Shuttle mission, becoming the US's first woman in space.

Almost 60 years after the first human blasted off into space, less than 11 per cent of the 500 plus people who have travelled to space have been women, and spacewalk teams have been all-male or male-female.

Some people, including former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, were not impressed that NASA couldn't make the first all-female spacewalk happen.

McClain set out for the International Space Station in December, according to her biography.

Since 1988, 214 spacewalks have been conducted in the space station, all of them are either wholly male or mixed.

On McClain's first spacewalk last week, she decided that a medium-sized spacesuit fit her best and allowed her to perform her work comfortably.

Friday's spacewalk is expected to take 6.5 hours, and you can catch it live on NASA's website.

The aim of the mission is to continue the installation of "powerful lithium-ion batteries for one of the station's solar arrays". It was during that spacewalk that she realized she preferred wearing the medium size torso, rather than the large one that she was originally slated to wear, Stephanie Schierholz, a spokesperson for NASA, said on Twitter.

McClain and Saint-Jacques are now planned for an April 8 spacewalk, which includes several space station maintenance tasks.

The mission will now go on with Koch and Hague at the helm, who will be replacing batteries on the station that were installed previous year.

The first all-female NASA spacewalk, which had been scheduled for March 29, was canceled because of ― wait for it ― a lack of properly sized suits. And, while the comfort and safety of the astronauts remains the most important aspect of any space mission, this last-minute reassignment seems to highlight the reality that many women will have to overcome additional career roadblocks working in a world created to accommodate men.