NASA can put a man on the moon — but it can't outfit two women astronauts in well-fitting spacesuits for the same mission. Earlier this week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that a female member of the crew scheduled to work on the installation of lithium-ion batteries for a pair of the International Space Station’s solar arrays would be replaced by a man. The issue? According to a statement NASA gave to Popular Science, it came down to the availability of spacesuits on the ISS.
In what would have been the first all-female space walk ever, two astronauts, Anne McClain and Christina Koch, trained for the mission wearing spacesuits in two different sizes (the top and bottom pieces of the suits are configured, sized and worn separately). After the March 22 spacewalk, both women decided each would be more comfortable wearing a size medium top (or "hard torso" piece) — but only one can be made in time for Friday's mission. Koch will wear the suit on Friday's spacewalk; a man will replace McClain, who will wear the medium-size suit on the April 8 mission.
“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, and in some cases (including Anne’s) astronauts train in multiple sizes,” NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean tells Popular Science. “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,” she continued. “No one training environment can fully simulate performing a spacewalk in microgravity,” said Dean, “and an individual may find that their sizing preferences change in space.”
Immediately following NASA's announcement, women took to Twitter to express their outrage, including former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who tweeted “make another suit.” Busy Tonight writer Shantira Jackson shared a simple solution: “Plz call Christian Siriano.”
NASA is pulling the same excuse most fashion designers did when media accused them of propagating EDs w/ tiny sample sizes.— Allison C (@allimuffin) March 27, 2019
Sexism & The Patriarchy are everywhere.
Allison C wrote, “NASA is pulling the same excuse most fashion designers did when media accused them of propagating [editorial spreads] with tiny sample sizes. Sexism and the patriarchy are everywhere.” Siriano, notably, often dresses women who are deemed to large for designer sample size pieces during award season — so we'd love to see his take on a NASA spacesuit.
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