NASA is facing accusations of sexism after it canceled the first-ever all-women spacewalk due to what officials said was a lack of spacesuits that could be made ready that would fit the women.
Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch were scheduled to take their spacewalk together March 29, but the event was canceled by NASA on Monday “due in part to spacesuit availability.”
According to a press release, only one appropriately sized spacesuit could be made available, so one of the astronauts, McClain, was forced to forfeit her spot.
“McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso — essentially the shirt of the spacesuit — fits her best. Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it,” NASA said.
The unique event was therefore canceled, and McClain was “tentatively scheduled” to make her spacewalk on April 8 with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, a man.
After announcing the news on social media Monday, a flurry of responses were shared online.
Some tried to make seemingly sexist jokes about the change of plans. “I am not going out there wearing the same outfit as HER,” one Twitter user quipped. “Did you forget pockets?” another added.
However, as the news traveled, many became increasingly angry by what they said was evidence of sexism.
“If we can land people on the moon, surely we can find a solution to this quandary,” one person tweeted.
The organizers of the Women’s March were among those seeking answers.
Many believed this was a blatant outcome of gender inequality.
“I guess sexism really can transcend the Earthly plane,” one person joked.
Representatives from NASA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but tweeted on Tuesday in response to the controversy.
Still, many disappointed space fans were left to vent online about what they felt was clear evidence that NASA hadn’t properly invested in gender inclusivity.
“NASA has been sending women into space since 1983. ‘Oops, no suit’ 36 years later is absurd and entirely indicative of a failure to take gender inclusion seriously,” tweeted Stephanie Nolen, who wrote an entire book about women astronauts breaking barriers.