Astronaut Anne McClain is defending NASA's decision to scrap the first all-female spacewalk over a lack of appropriately sized spacesuits.
"That was my recommendation," McClain told ABC News during a live, televised interview from the International Space Station on Monday (April 1), three days after she sat out of what would have been her second spacewalk — and a historic moment for women in space — on Friday (March 29).
McClain took her first spacewalk on March 22 in a spacesuit with a size-medium hard upper torso (HUT), and she planned to wear a size-large HUT during her second spacewalk together with NASA astronaut Christina Koch. She had trained wearing spacesuits in both sizes, so she thought she could wear either size. However, just a few days before that second spacewalk McClain informed NASA that she did not feel comfortable wearing the larger size after all. The crew had prepared only one medium suit and one large suit for the series of spacewalks happening this spring, but both women needed to wear the medium. So, NASA astronaut Nick Hague took McClain's place and wore the larger suit during Friday's spacewalk — much to the dismay of feminists across the internet.
"Nick and I went out the door [March 22] and did a spacewalk, and at the time the suit that I was wearing, it fit perfectly," McClain said in the interview. "I was very happy in it, and Nick was happy in the suit he was wearing. We didn't want to make any changes."
Unfortunately, wearing that same spacesuit for her next spacewalk simply wasn't an option. "I was planning on changing sizes on the second suit, and because everything went so well on the first one, we realized ... we don't need to inject any additional unknowns into something that is as important and as dangerous as a spacewalk," McClain explained.
"It's very important that all of us are able to work as efficiently and safely as possible, and so Nick and I swapped," McClain said. While Hague took over McClain's role on the last spacewalk, McClain is now taking over for Hague on the next spacewalk, scheduled for April 8, when she'll be working together with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques.
McClain said Hague and Koch "did an amazing job" with last Friday's spacewalk and that "they were absolutely the right team for the job."
"I'll be looking forward to going out the hatch again next week," McClain said.
- Astronaut Anne McClain Loves Aidy Bryant's Take on Her on 'Saturday Night Live'
- 'Make Another Suit,' Clinton Tells NASA After Scrapped All-Female Spacewalk
- The Spacewalks of Expedition 59 in Photos
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.