Earlier this month, the world was excited to hear that NASA had planned the first "all-female spacewalk". Now, an annoying equipment problem has disappointed many # WomeninSTEM enthusiasts.
Expedition 59/60 Air Engineer Christina Koch and Anne McClain were going to invest outside the International Space Station (ISS) on March 29 to continue upgrading the batteries on one of the station's solar arrays.
Despite great media coverage scheduling of these crew members – including the fact that women would also be on Earth's key flight control – was a fortunate coincidence, not a pre-mediated event (the maintenance job was not even planned until later this year ).
"It wasn't orchestrated to be like this," said NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz when the news first broke.
However, given that female astronauts have undoubtedly been under-represented in ISS missions and space walks over the years, of course, everyone became excited.
As said, NASA explicitly told us that things can still change about this outing.
"Spacewalk missions can be adjusted if the flight operation ons team considers it necessary," Schierholz wrote in the original press release on the latest spacewalk scheme.
Now, with one of the astronauts, they have replaced a male colleague because of a space shuttle dimension. On March 26, NASA announced that McClain would be replaced by airplane engineer Nick Haag ̵
– Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 25, 2019
The "cancellation" of the all-female spacewalk has come down to the fact that on March 22, McClain appeared her best spacesuit torso fit is a medium, not big as the team that previously thought.
NASA's extravehic activity (EVA) costumes are actually considered "personal spacecraft" intended to hold a human living in the harsh environment of space. They do not have male and female versions, but consist of a mix and collection of parts – torso, arms, gloves, etc. – available in several sizes to ensure fit for each astronaut.
For the March 29 spacewalk, only a medium-sized torsobit was ready to go, and it will be donned by Koch, according to NASA's announcement of these updated missions.
Public reactions to social media have sounded a lot like this: "Omg, how does NASA not have enough fit size for female astronauts!? How did they not see this coming!? How embarrassing!"
Not so fast.
Although it is a pity that this historical event cannot now happen because of what is basically a lack of equipment, the current state is more complicated than merely claiming that NASA does not adequately satisfy female astronauts due to for example implicit sexism.
In fact, the ISS also has another medium-sized torso on board. But donating a space color and getting out the air hatch is nothing like the fast process that we usually see in sci-fi movies.
While it only takes 15 minutes to get the cost on you, the crew occupies a really long time to fit checks and prepares for the EVA the day before it is planned.
According to a tweet by Schierholz McLain was trained in both sizes of space travel and the fit was only discovered late in the space plan. In addition, the job means much more crew than just two people jumping out of the ISS, so NASA joined the fastest and easiest solution – replace the astronaut, not the suit.
We have another space segment in the station; Anne trained in M and L and thought that she could use a large but decided after Friday's spacewalk a medium fits better. In this case, it is easier (and faster!) To change spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacecraft.
– Stephanie (@schierholz) March 25, 2019
On top of that, it is not like NASA does not have enough fits just for female astronauts. They hardly have enough suits, period.
In 2017, the agency released a review of the rights currently used on the ISS, describing concerns about the age of the equipment that may not even last until the station's planned retirement in 2024. 
"Of the 11 remaining complete and the functional space seats are 4 on the ISS and the remaining 7 are on earth at different stages of renovation and maintenance, "the audit noted. Yikes.
New costumes are in the works, but these things mean extraordinary costs and time to produce, with financing savings eating in the development of prey, the Z-Series Press Garment System.
The crew surely changes on March 29, the spacewalk is less exciting to the public, but ultimately, most spacewalks are just another very complicated station maintenance trip.
We can only hope that soon another ISS mission with lots of amazing female astronauts can set this milestone in human space exploration.