Women May Be Better Suited for Spaceflight, According to Scientists

There's currently only one woman aboard the International Space Station.
Fabienne Lang
Female astronauts Chancellor and McClain in the ISS during Expedition 57NASA

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir is currently the only woman in Space. This isn't such a surprise given there have been around 550 people sent to Space, with only 65 of them having been women. 

Even though there's still a huge disparity between men and women going to Space, scientists believe that women may actually be better suited for the role. Here's what they have to say. 


Why are women better suited for space travel?

One general, but not always applicable, reason is that women are smaller in size. On average men weigh more than women, so when it comes to launching smaller and lighter people into Space, typically smaller women would require the rockets to use less fuel, according to National Geographic

Women May Be Better Suited for Spaceflight, According to Scientists
Astronauts McClain and Koch on the ISS, Source: NASA

Moreover, as women are typically smaller they require fewer daily calories, therefore food supplies could last longer. A study in 2013 pointed out that even when men and women performed similar duties in Space, women ended up only needing half of the calorie intake as men. 

Then there's the matter of how bodies respond to being in Space. Unfortunately, both men and women suffer negative impacts from being in Space. For instance, women are more prone to radiation-induced cancers, whereas men are more prone to disease and suffer hearing-loss more quickly. 

A brief history of women in Space

The first woman to go to Space was Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. Roughly twenty years passed before another woman "stepped foot" into Space, and in 1982 another Russian cosmonaut, Svetlana Savitskaya was the next woman to do so. 

A number of women from different nations then joined the ranks of females up in Space: American astronaut Sally Ride in 1983, Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar in 1992, Japanese astronaut Chiaki Mukai also in 1992, which continues on until 2020 when the first all-woman spacewalk occurred. 

It wasn't only up in Space that women had an impact. Countless women down on Earth have assisted the cause for Space research, which current NASA astronaut Jessica Meir commented on in her Twitter post on March 8th, International Women's Day.


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