Washington, Mar 27 (EFE).- US astronaut Anne McClain, one of the two women who had been scheduled to make the first two-woman spacewalk, said Wednesday that the decision to change the composition of the team who will venture outside the International Space Station later this week was made on her recommendation.
“This decision was based on my recommendation. Leaders must make tough calls, and I am fortunate to work with a team who trusts my judgement. We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated. Safety of the crew and execution of the mission come first,” said McClain on her Twitter account.
In addition, she emphasized that nothing had been cancelled or postponed, adding that EVA 53 will be made as scheduled on Friday by Astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch.
McClain and Koch had originally been scheduled to perform the spacewalk together, but McClain recommended that a change be made in the team composition after her first spacewalk on March 22 when she decided she would be more comfortable in a medium suit rather than a large.
However, it takes time to prepare a spacesuit for a spacewalk and only one medium-sized suit was ready, and Koch will use it on Friday.
McClain, who is a US Army lieutenant colonel and was a helicopter pilot, said she expected that there will be a third spacewalk, now scheduled for April 8, to install backup power equipment for the ISS robotic arm. The plan is for McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques to make that EVA.
On Tuesday, NASA faced a wave of criticism over its decision to postpone the first spacewalk by two women – McClain and Koch – because two medium spacesuits were not available on board the ISS.
NASA said that it was “safer & faster to change spacewalker assignments than reconfigure spacesuits.”
The ISS orbits the Earth at a speed of some 28,000 kph (17,360 mph) at an altitude of 400 km (250 mi.) There are currently six astronauts on board the ISS: two Russians (Alexei Ovchinin and station commander Oleg Kononenko), three Americans (McClain, Koch and Hague) and a Canadian (Saint-Jacques).