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. Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch, who were scheduled to participate in the walk, both needed a size medium hard upper torso, which the agency described as “essentially the shirt of the spacesuit.” And only one was available.
NASA clarified Tuesday in a tweet that it has more than one medium-size suit but, because of time constraints, it would be “safer and faster” to switch out McClain for a male astronaut.
NASA’s spacesuit problem dates much farther back than this would-be history-making walk. NPR reported in 2017 that the organization has only 11 spacesuits, or extravehicular mobility units, which were all designed more than 40 years ago. It added that the cost to build a new suit from scratch would be $250 million.
So, not quite as easy as just making a new one. But a challenge that maybe should have been dealt with more than a few days before a giant leap for womankind was scheduled?
Worst case scenario, NASA could always send out the bat signal to fashion designer Christian Siriano. He has a way of making outfits magically appear that others deem impossible.