NASA Needs to Upgrade Its Wardrobe

Have you ever wanted to go somewhere but couldn’t because you didn’t have the right attire? Astronaut Anne McClain can relate on a galactic level. 

On March 25, NASA announced that its plan for the first all-female spacewalk would be canceled. They had only released the news of the spacewalk four days before. That’s just four days of victory and celebration for the progress women made in equal representation in STEM. 

The worst part of it all? The plan fell through because of a spacesuit. Or in this case a lack thereof.   

Anne McClain was scheduled to go on a spacewalk with Christina Koch on March 29. The women were tasked with replacing batteries at the International Space Station (ISS). When NASA realized they didn’t have the right sized spacesuit for McCain, she got switched out for male astronaut Nick Hague. McCain realized that a medium-sized spacesuit fit her best after her first spacewalk earlier in the week, according to NASA. However, NASA only had one medium-sized spacesuit available. Talk about a wardrobe malfunction. So, one girl had to go. It was decided it’d be easier to switch out astronauts than wait for another medium-sized spacesuit to be ready. So, Koch and Hague did the 6.5 hour-long spacewalk on March 29  instead, and the internet was not happy

 

 

One of the more popular reactions was from feminist icon, Hilary Clinton. On Twitter she commented, “Make another suit.” 

Another Twitter user said, “They put men on the moon and robots on Mars yet somehow forgot to design for the possibility of multiple female astronaut

 

Saturday Night Live did a sketch on the cancellation, with Amy Bryant playing McClain on Weekend Update.

Bryant’s portrayal of McClain passively pretended everything’s fine, barely managing to maintain her composure. She said, “They can make a special space suit for a dog, or a special space suit a monkey, but a human girl, only one get to be moon queen.”

Of course, the all-female spacewalk shouldn’t have happened if that meant risking McClain’s safety with the wrong sized spacesuit. But why would NASA only have one medium-sized space suit ready? McClain, Koch and Hague all graduated from the same astronaut class in 2013. The class was phenomenal in that it had the second largest number of applicants in NASA’s history at the time, and it was equal parts male and female. With an increasing number of female astronauts, why didn’t NASA plan accordingly? For such a big company, with such large funding, you’d think they would have organized these things a bit better. 

You can tell a spacewalk is one of the most challenging feats for an astronaut from the amount of time it takes to complete one. The spacewalk that McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will be doing on April 8  will be seven hours long. 

However, the idea of two female astronauts completing the walk together is revolutionary. It shows that women can be just as strong as men. Let’s face it, even though we have made significant strides, it seems like women are constantly having to prove themselves. Both McClain and Koch got to go on a spacewalk, so clearly they’re both badass and inspirations to others. But the symbol of two women united in the spacewalk would’ve been empowering to see. People have a right to be upset about it. Representation matters, especially in a field that’s been missing women for ages. The fact that the spacewalk was canceled over a space suit is almost like a slap in the face. Did NASA not recognize how important this was to so many girls throughout the world? It seemed like it was almost too easy for them to change plans. 

On this space trip, astronauts completed the No. 215  and No. 216  spacewalks in ISS history. But, McClain and Koch are only No. 13 and No. 14 women to spacewalk.

I understand why the all-female spacewalk was canceled, but next time NASA needs to pack its luggage better.