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Why NASA Canceled the First All-Female Spacewalk in History

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.


On April 12, 1961, Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first human to ever travel into space, ensuring his place in the history books and changing science forever. Since this day we have had a total of 12 people walk on our moon’s surface and experienced over 54 years of spacewalking. Up until this point though, of all 537 total space travelers, only 61 of them have been women, which translates to 11.35%. This means, that despite women making up roughly 49% of our world population, only about 11% of any kind of space travel includes a woman, which is why March 29, 2019 would have marked a tremendous day in history for not just women in science, but women everywhere.

Anne McClain and Christina Koch were set to make history this Friday by conducting the first ever all female spacewalk through the NASA program. These women, who spent years training and competing with others for their rightfully earned spots, were going to conclude this year’s Women’s History Month with a bang. However, on March 26th, three days before the spacewalk was scheduled to happen, NASA announced that they had to scrap the spacewalk due to a lack of medium-sized space suits.

On top of all this, NASA immediately replaced McClain with male colleague, Nick Hague, for Koch to spacewalk with on Friday. And why is it that they can do this so quickly, you ask? You guessed it, they have the spacesuit availability for him, despite him not initially being part of the spacewalk.

Whether you are a woman interested in space or not, this should be at least a little upsetting for you to hear. I understand that safety is extremely important in this situation and having one small thing off can quickly jeopardize someone’s life. However, it is a little sad knowing just how well prepared NASA is for their male space travelers at any moment compared to their female astronauts. NASA is a space program notoriously known for being extremely dominated by white men, and as much as I hear what they are saying when it comes to why McClain couldn’t perform this walk, it is also extremely frustrating how it has all panned out.

Despite all of this upsetting news though, both women still plan on making history, just not in the way we initially planned. By still performing the spacewalk, Koch will make herself the 13th woman in history to ever do so. On April 8th of this year, McClain will be joined by Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques in doing another spacewalk, tagging her as the 14th woman to ever do so after Koch.

NASA has come out saying that despite not having another all female space anything planned anytime soon, “an all-women spacewalk is inevitable.” Thanks NASA, glad to hear that you’re at least thinking about giving a group of women another chance to do something that men have done over and over again since 1961.






Hello all! My name is Emma Verdonik and I am a senior in her final year of studying at the University of Kansas. I am an English major who loves writing about all sorts of subjects and wants you to read what I have to say. Enjoy!