US astronauts, Christina Koch and Anne McClain, were both scheduled to change batteries outside the International Space Station (ISS) on March 29, making history as the first, all-female spacewalk.
However, NASA announced on Monday that due to “spacesuit availability on the station,” McClain will be replaced by a male colleague.
McClain and Koch both require a medium sized spacesuit; however, NASA only has one available on the ISS, and for safety purposes, McClain will not be allowed to partake on the spacewalk in the incorrect sized suit.
She will be accompanied by a male astronaut on another spacewalk scheduled for April 8.
Both female astronauts trained in medium and large suits, but due to microgravity and changes to their bodies in space, both require a medium-sized suit.
Because getting another spacesuit ready would take too long, NASA decided it would be easier to switch McClain out for someone who could wear the larger, available suit.
Twitter immediately reacted to this announcement, with angry tweets calling out the US space program for not being more inclusive to women.
“We put a man on the moon but we can’t find a spacesuit that fits a woman by Friday,” tweeted Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post, followed by a tweet from Hillary Clinton saying, “make another suit.”
However, despite claims of sexism in the space program, NASA had addressed the lack of spacesuits in a 2017 report, saying that the ISS only has 4 usable spacesuits out of 11 available.
The cost for each suit is about £16 million, and takes over seven years to make, but with the ISS scheduled to be retired in 2024, money has not been allocated for new suits.