NASA responded to accusations of sexism over its decision to cancel a planned historic spacewalk by two women astronauts due to a lack of well-fitting spacesuits.
The US space agency announced that Christina Koch will perform tasks in space with fellow American Nick Hague—rather than with Anne McClain as originally planned.
Had Koch and McClain done their spacewalk together, it would have been the first ever by two women astronauts—out of more than 200 spacewalks since 1998.
Only one medium-sized spacesuit is currently available aboard the International Space Station—where Koch and McClain are staying with four American, Canadian and Russian men.
Space fans and feminists alike denounced the decision to cancel the all-women spacewalk, seeing implicit sexism in traditionally male-dominated NASA’s failure to be adequately prepared for both women to venture out into space together.
“Make another suit,” former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Twitter.
“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.”