Naturally, the Internet went ablaze with accusations of discrimination and even conspiracy. Tons of virtual ink was spilled on the web, as even respectable publications began an assault against this “ludicrous casualty of all-male assumptions.”
In response to some of these accusations, NASA released on Thursday a document showing how the entire spacesuit thing works in orbit. And, in a nutshell, it all has to do with astronauts growing in size while in orbit.
The International Space Station has a total of six spacesuit torsos, two medium, two large and two extra large. One of the medium and one of the extra large are spares and need 12 hours to get ready for an EVA.
And now comes the really interesting part. Because McClain grew in height by two inches since getting to space, the astronauts would have needed to configure the spare medium suit that fitted her, a thing they don’t want to do because “the space station is on a very busy operational schedule.”
“NASA does not make assignments based on gender,” the agency says in the document it released.
“The first female space shuttle commander, the first female space station commander and the first female spacewalker were all chosen because they the right individuals for the job, not because they were women."
“It is not unusual to change spacewalk assignments as lessons are learned during operations in space."
The agency adds that an all-female spacewalk is inevitable, as the number of female astronauts keeps growing.
You can have a look at the official NASA position on this subject in the document attached below.
Earth will learn a lot during his busy week on @Space_Station - today he kept me company while we checked our suit sizing to account for space growth (I am 2 inches taller than when I launched!), then we did some translation adaptation. pic.twitter.com/A89tJauyQu— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) 4 martie 2019