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'Leaders must make tough calls': Anne McClain responds to all-female spacewalk cancellation

Due to a lack of available spacesuits, Spokane native and astronaut Anne McClain has been substituted for a male astronaut for Friday's spacewalk.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane native and NASA astronaut Anne McClain is responding to the cancellation of what would have been the first ever all-female spacewalk.

On Monday, NASA announced that the first all-female spacewalk, which would have involved McClain, would not happen due to an assignment change stemming from spacesuit availability.

McClain took part in the first spacewalk of the year on March 22 in her third month on the International Space Station. During the spacewalk, she performed maintenance on the space station with NASA Flight Engineer Nick Hague.

Astronauts Christina Koch and McClain were supposed to perform the first ever all-female spacewalk this Friday. 

NASA said that mission managers had to change spacewalk assignments because both Koch and McClain required a medium-sized upper torso,  which is essentially the shirt of the spacesuit.

NASA tweeted that they have more than one medium spacesuit torso aboard the International Space Station, but needed to change spacewalker assignments rather than reconfigure spacesuits for safety reasons and to stay on schedule with upgrades. 

On Twitter, McClain said NASA's decision was based 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," McClain wrote.

The tweet has received more than 800 likes and hundreds of retweets in just over 20 minutes. 

According to a statement posted on NASA's website, McClain is slated for the third spacewalk on April 8. 

McClain tweeted about her excitement to participate in another spacewalk. 

The March 29 spacewalk is scheduled to start at 3:20 a.m., while the April 8 spacewalk is set to start at 3:05 a.m.

The second spacewalk will be finishing work done in the first one, which was to install powerful lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station's solar arrays. 

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