In the next three months astronauts aboard the International Space Station will take a record 10 spacewalks—including the first all-female walk in history!

Last March astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain were scheduled to make the first female-only walk. Citing the unavailability of spacesuits, NASA scrapped the walk.

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Of the nixed spacewalk, Brando Dean, from NASA’s public affairs office, told CNN (back in March), “We do our best to anticipate the spacesuit sizes that each astronaut will need, based on the spacesuit size they wore in training on the ground.” Dean continued, “However, individuals’ sizing needs may change when they are on orbit, in response to the changes living in microgravity can bring about in a body. In addition, no one training environment can fully simulate performing a spacewalk in microgravity, and an individual may find that their sizing preferences change in space.”

Another NASA public affairs rep, Stephanie Schierholz, also told CNN, “You want it to be as optimally fitted as possible. So the feedback from Anne was that she felt she should really be in a medium suit. There’s another medium torso but it’s not currently configured into a spacesuit. So it’s easier to swap out the spacewalkers than to swap out parts of the spacesuit.”

This time around Koch is scheduled to take her all-female spacewalk with astronaut Jessica Meir on Oct. 21. McClain has already returned to Earth.

Even though the walk with Meir is a history-maker, it isn’t the only one for Koch. She’ll take three spacewalks in October, including two with astronaut Andrew Morgan.

Not only is Koch making history as part of the first all-female spacewalk, but she’s also primed to break the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman!

—Erica Loop

Featured photo: Christina Koch via Instagram 

 

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