Taikonaut Wang Yaping has become China’s first female spacewalker. IC VCG
On Nov 8, Wang Yaping, a female taikonaut of Shenzhou XIII mission, became China’s first and the world’s 16th female spacewalker. The expected six-month journey in space has left many curious about the differences between male and female astronauts, especially in terms of performing extravehicular activities (EVAs). Despite physical challenges, female astronauts have unique advantages.
Mutual understanding between astronauts is very important for carrying out EVAs, which is based on excellent communication skills. Women are superior in communication and language expression, and this helps female astronauts conduct extravehicular activities, according to Yang Yuguang, vice chair of Space Transportation Committee of the International Astronautical Federation.
Female astronauts’ strong communication skills and energy also help the crew maintain high morale throughout their stay, according to Pang Zhihao, a spaceflight researcher in Beijing.
Men and women are different in body size, which also gives women unique advantages for spacewalks. Their generally smaller size is an advantage, as women will be able to control their weight better and thus perform a wider variety of tasks,Pang told China Daily.
Women in general weigh less, eat less food, consume less oxygen, and therefore required less fuel to get into space. A taikonaut must weigh between 55 kilograms and 70 kilograms to fit in the cabin of spacecraft and consume less fuel, according to CGTN.
A different body shape requires a different spacesuit. A tailor-made spacesuit was prepared for Wang’s extravehicular activities, which was lighter than the male version. Designers optimized the pattern of this spacesuit in the lower limb area to make it more suitable for astronauts with slimmer figures.
According to Pang, many studies have found that female astronauts are well adapted to executing space missions, and have advantages over male astronauts in qualities such as attention to detail and thinking comprehensively.
Men tend to excel in shorter-term, goal-oriented situations, while women are better in longer-term, habitation-type circumstances, according to National Geographic.
Women’s participation in EVAs is an integral part of space missions, and we are witnessing history thanks to Wang’s bravery, according to Yang.