“Make Another Suit,” Clinton Tells NASA After Scrapped All-Female Spacewalk

And why it's not that simple.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) applauds astronaut Eileen Collins during a visit with science students at Dunbar High School March 5, 1998 in Washington, DC. Collins has been named the first woman commander of a NASA mission which will launch in April of 1999. (photo by Karin Cooper)
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) applauds astronaut Eileen Collins during a visit with science students at Dunbar High School March 5, 1998 in Washington, DC. Collins has been named the first woman commander of a NASA mission which will launch in April of 1999. (photo by Karin Cooper)
By Chase Hill / March 29, 2019 3:00 pm

When news broke that that all-female space walk was canceled, former First Lady and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton took to Twitter with a suggestion for NASA.

“Make another suit.” Clinton’s tweet said, but it’s not that simple.

Anna McClain, the female astronaut who was set float through space with Christina Koch during a spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS), made the call, not NASA.

“This decision was based on my recommendation,” McClain said in a tweet. “Leaders must make tough calls, and I am fortunate to work with a team who trusts my judgment. We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated. Safety of the crew and execution of the mission come first.”

It takes about 12 hours to prepare a suit for a spacewalk, 12 hours that McClain and the rest of her team weren’t willing to give up as their schedule is jam-packed with important scientific work. So, it wasn’t that there wasn’t a suit available, it just took too much time to prep it for use.

McClain went on a spacewalk last week in a large-sized suit and felt uncomfortable enough to acknowledge that a change needed to be made. During training on Earth and on the ISS she had worn both medium and large size suits, but once she was in space for a while, she says, she grew two inches (astronauts often gain a few inches as it’s normal for their spine to relax and elongate when Earth’s gravitational pull isn’t tugging on it).

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