Nasa astronaut at centre of ‘sexism’ claims over all-female spacewalk speaks out

Andrew Griffin

The Nasa astronaut who had to pull out of Nasa's first ever all-female spacewalk has said that she recommended that the major milestone did not go ahead.

Anne McClain was scheduled to make history as part of the first ever team made up only of women to make journey out into space. But the historic moment was cancelled because there weren't enough spacesuits available to fit the two women, and so McClain had to be replaced by a man.

The decision led to condemnation from around the world, including from Hillary Clinton, who suggested that Nasa should be able to make another spacesuit. But McClain said the decision had been made in contact with her.

The 39-year-old originally thought a large-sized spacesuit would be fit for purpose, but following a spacewalk last week decided that a medium would be safer.

"This decision was based on my recommendation," Ms McClain tweeted from aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

"Leaders must make tough calls, and I am fortunate to work with a team who trusts my judgement.

"We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated. Safety of the crew and execution of the mission come first."

There is more than one medium-size spacesuit torso on board the ISS, Nasa explained, but it would not be able to make it available in time for Friday.

To date, spacewalks have all been entirely male-led or a mix of male and females, but never all-female.

The space agency has not stated when it will try again to make an all-female spacewalk happen.

Additional reporting by agencies