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[AmericaSpace] On International Women's Day
« dnia: Marzec 09, 2019, 23:41 »
On International Women's Day, NASA Looks Forward to First All-Female EVA in Late March; Koch Tapped for Longer ISS Stay
By Ben Evans, on March 8th, 2019

Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques at work with U.S. space suits in the Quest airlock aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA

As the world observes International Women’s Day today (Friday, 8 March), we are reminded not only of the past accomplishments of female spacefarers—including Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space; Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman to perform a spacewalk; Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space mission; and Peggy Whitson, the first woman to lead a space station expedition—but of the promise of future achievements, as-yet unrealized.

In the coming weeks, NASA plans three periods of Extravehicular Activity (EVA) outside the International Space Station (ISS), involving four first-time spacewalkers from the United States and Canada. On the second of those three EVAs, on 29 March, U.S. astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will make history by performing the first-ever all-female spacewalk. And according to NASA, Koch may remain aboard the station to achieve the second-longest single mission ever performed by a woman.

On Mission 41G, Kathy Sullivan became the first U.S. female spacewalker. Photo Credit: NASA

All told, just 62 women from the United States, Russia, Canada, Italy, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea and China have achieved Earth-orbital flight between Tereshkova’s pioneering mission on Vostok 6 in June 1963 and the launch of NASA’s Anne McClain aboard Soyuz MS-11 last December. Fewer still have performed spacewalks, with a mere 12 women to date—out of a total of more than 200 astronauts—having departed their orbital spacecraft, clad in pressurized suits, to work in near-total vacuum.

Yet the 37 EVAs conducted between July 1984 and, most recently, May 2017, which have included female spacewalkers, have been responsible for some of the most remarkable accomplishments in human exploration of the cosmos.

Spacewalker Kathy Thornton is dwarfed by Hubble’s solar array as she prepares to release it into space, during STS-61 in December 1993. Photo Credit: NASA

The Soviet Union’s Svetlana Savitskaya was the first woman spacewalker, spending 3.5 hours working outside the Salyut 7 space station in July 1984, after which NASA’s Kathy Sullivan did likewise outside shuttle Challenger the following October. Savitskaya evaluated a new space-welding tool, whilst Sullivan trialed an in-space refueling mechanism.

The first woman to make two EVAs was also the first woman to make three—Kathy Thornton, who supported Space Station Freedom construction tests on STS-49 in May 1992, then became the only female spacewalker to work on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during STS-61 in December 1993—and Linda Godwin stands alone as the only woman to spacewalk outside two discrete space stations, namely Mir and the ISS.

Linda Godwin (left), pictured during STS-108 training, became the first woman to spacewalk outside two discrete space stations. Photo Credit: NASA

Susan Helms was a participant on the longest EVA ever conducted—a marathon, eight-hour-and-56-minute excursion, back in March 2001—whilst the current incumbent record-holder is former NASA Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has totaled 60 hours and 21 minutes in vacuum, across ten EVAs between August 2002 and May 2017. This positions her fourth on the list of most experienced spacewalkers in the world, sitting just behind seasoned Russian heavyweight Anatoli Solovyov and NASA veterans Mike Lopez-Alegria and Drew Feustel.

For several years, an element of unspoken lighthearted competition existed between Whitson and fellow NASA astronaut Suni Williams, as the mantle of most experienced female spacewalker pingponged between them. Williams has presently logged over 50 hours across her seven EVAs, whilst five other women—Tammy Jernigan, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Nicole Stott, Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Kate Rubins—have spacewalked outside the ISS. Of those, Jernigan was the first woman to spacewalk outside the ISS, way back in May 1999.

Susan Helms translates along the wall of the shuttle’s payload bay during her STS-102 EVA with Jim Voss. This spacewalk in March 2001 remains the longest EVA ever conducted, at eight hours and 56 minutes. Photo Credit: NASA

Several of those female spacewalkers have adopted the leadership mantle on their EVAs, serving as “EV1”, although at no point in history has an all-female spacewalk ever taken place. That will occur for the first time on 29 March, when incumbent Expedition 58 astronaut Anne McClain and her soon-to-be-launched crewmate Christina Koch step outside the ISS to continue work to replace a set of 12 aging nickel-hydrogen batteries in Power Channels 2A and 4A in the station’s P-4 truss with six smaller and more capable lithium-ion ones.

Current plans—outlined by NASA last month—call for McClain and Nick Hague to perform a spacewalk on 22 March to begin the work, after which McClain and Koch will make the second EVA a week later and Hague and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will venture outside on 8 April to install truss jumpers and additional ethernet cable connections. For both of her EVAs, McClain will serve as EV1.

Shane Kimbrough (left) and the world’s most experienced female spacewalker Peggy Whitson (right), at work during EVA-41. Photo Credit: NASA/Twitter/Thomas Pesquet

Much speculation has abounded in recent months about the return schedule for various U.S. and Russian crew members, later this year, particularly in light of the fact that the first United Arab Emirates (UAE) spacefarer is expected to fly a short-duration mission of around ten days aboard Soyuz MS-15 in September. To free up a seat aboard Soyuz MS-12 for his return to Earth, it has been suggested that a Soyuz MS-12 crew member may enjoy a longer than nominal stay aboard the ISS. In comments provided to AmericaSpace, NASA’s Rob Navias explained definitively that “Hague returns to Earth in October”.

Launching alongside the UAE spaceflight participant are expected to be Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka—who will rejoin his one-time crewmate Christina Koch—and former NASA Chief Astronaut Chris Cassidy, who will remain aboard the space station until late spring 2020. According to Mr. Navias, “we expect Koch to remain on-board ISS” beyond October, with Ovchinin and Hague joining the UAE astronaut aboard Soyuz MS-12 for the return to Earth on 3 October. Asked if Koch would return on Soyuz MS-13 in December, or remain aboard even longer, returning on Soyuz MS-15 in April 2020, Mr. Navias advised that “the Flight Program is under review”. In either case, a landing in December 2019 or later will provide Koch with a minimum-duration mission of nine months aboard the ISS, the second-longest duration ever achieved by a female spacefarer on a single mission, after Peggy Whitson.


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Odp: [AmericaSpace] On International Women's Day
« Odpowiedź #1 dnia: Marzec 26, 2019, 19:12 »
Spacesuit issue cancels first all-female spacewalk
by Jeff Foust — March 26, 2019

NASA astronaut Anne McClain during a March 22 spacewalk. A decision by McClain to use a smaller spacesuit led NASA to reshuffle assignments for upcoming spacewalks, in the process cancelling what would have been the first all-female EVA. Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON — A spacesuit sizing issue has prompted NASA to reshuffle assignments for a pair of upcoming spacewalks at the International Space Station, cancelling a first-ever all-woman spacewalk and in the process turning what had been an accidental public relations coup for the agency into a headache.

NASA announced March 25 that Anne McClain, who performed a spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague March 22, won’t participate in another spacewalk scheduled for March 29 with Christina Koch. Hague will instead perform the spacewalk with Koch to replace batteries that are part of the station’s power system.

The agency said it made the change after McClain found that she would be more comfortable wearing a suit with a medium-sized hard upper torso segment, rather than the large size she wore on the earlier spacewalk. Only one suit with a medium-sized torso is ready for use on the station, and station managers decided to have Koch use that suit.

There were no signs in the earlier spacewalk by McClain that the larger suit was a problem. An agency spokesperson said March 25 that McClain trained for the spacewalks on the ground in using medium and large torso segments, and initially thought that the larger suit would work, but concluded after the March 22 spacewalk that the smaller suit would be more comfortable.

Even with extensive training on the ground, getting the right fit for a spacesuit in microgravity can be a challenge. “When they launch on board, we know pretty well what suit size they are but, of course, your body changes slightly in space due to fluid shifts or spine elongation,” said Mary Lawrence, a NASA spacewalk flight director, during a March 19 press conference about the spacewalks.

A relatively routine reshuffling of crew assignments generated extra attention, and scrutiny, because of the historical significance of the planned spacewalk. Had the previous schedule held, a Koch-McClain spacewalk would have been the first in the history of spaceflight featuring only women.

“Anne and Christina will have the opportunity to be the first all-female EVA, which I think will be a proud moment for NASA, if the assignments stay as they planned,” Lawrence said at that briefing. “If they inspire that next generation of space explorers, they’re certainly worthy of that inspiration, and I’m just really proud to be a part of it.”

Agency officials, though, emphasized they did not deliberately team up Koch and McClain for that milestone. “There were a lot of circumstances that got us here,” said Kenny Todd, manager for ISS operations and integration at NASA, during the same briefing. Among those factors were delays in the spacewalk caused by changes in crew assignments and schedules after the aborted Soyuz MS-10 launch last October.

Another factor, he said, was giving spacewalk experience to as many astronauts as possible. “We’ve got a lot of young crew members here. Chances are they’re going to see space again at some point and, as much as we can, we’d like to make them veteran spacewalkers.”

Todd said that the historical significance didn’t immediately dawn on him or others planning the spacewalk. “It just wasn’t something that jumped out at us,” he said.

While NASA didn’t deliberately plan an all-woman spacewalk, it enjoyed the extra attention paid to it. That attention, though, created a backlash in social media when NASA announced the reassignment, with some people accusing the agency of sexism for not having enough medium-sized suits on the station or not being willing to delay the spacewalk until a solution could be found to allow Koch and McClain to perform an EVA together.

NASA later noted that there is a second medium-sized spacesuit torso on the station, but it is not currently configured for a spacewalk. An agency spokesperson said it’s easier to change the spacewalk crew assignments and keep to the current schedule than to reconfigure the spacesuits and delay the EVAs.

Delaying the spacewalk would pose other schedule challenges as well. Todd noted at the earlier briefing that April will be a busy month at the station with three cargo vehicles slated to arrive there. A Russian Progress cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch to the station April 4, followed by a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft April 17. A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft will follow in late April.

McClain, while not participating in this EVA, will take part in another spacewalk. NASA announced March 25 that she and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will perform the third and last in the current series of spacewalks on April 8.