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NASA astronaut Christina Koch takes a selfie during a spacewalk. Photo: NASA

As NASA aims to make spaceflight more inclusive and equitable, outdated ideas about women and their fitness for certain aspects of spaceflight still persist.

Driving the news: During a press briefing ahead of the historic all-female spacewalk on Friday, NASA's acting associate administrator for human exploration Ken Bowersox suggested that it took this long for two women to go on a spacewalk together in part because women's bodies aren't as fit for spacewalking as men's.

  • "It's a little bit like playing in the NBA," Bowersox, a former astronaut said. "I'm too short to play in the NBA, and sometimes physical characteristics make a difference in certain activities, and spacewalks are one of those areas where just how your body is built in shape, it makes a difference in how well you can work the suit."

But, but, but: The spacesuits used on these spacewalks weren't made with women in mind.

  • "The technology for our spacesuits that we're still wearing today was actually developed in the '70s, and the astronaut population did look a little bit different back then," NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, one of the two women who went on the spacewalk Friday, said during a Monday press briefing.
  • Historically, women have been underrepresented in NASA's Astronaut Corps, making it even less likely the two would have been assigned to the same spacewalk at all.

Between the lines: While the spacewalking milestone was celebrated by NASA as a big moment for women in space, the agency has yet to reach gender parity.

  • According to a NASA survey, about 34% of the space agency's workforce is female.

What's next: The space agency aims to send the first woman to the Moon in 2024 as part of its Artemis program.

  • Last week, NASA revealed a new spacesuit designed for microgravity and on planetary surfaces like the Moon.
  • The space agency stressed that the xEMU suit is designed to fit women as well as men.

Go deeper, via The Verge: Why spacesuit design choices delayed the first all-female spacewalk

Go deeper

11 mins ago - Health

FDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill

The Merck Cherokee Plant in Riverside, Pennsylvania. Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday voted 13-10 to endorse an antiviral pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to treat adults at high risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, despite concerns over its effectiveness and safety.

Why it matters: Oral antiviral drugs designed to prevent or treat COVID-19 could be key pandemic-fighting tools, if proven effective, especially as new variants emerge. If authorized, the Merck drug, known as molnupiravir, would be the first treatment of its kind to be made available in the United States.

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 6 wounded

Screengrab: CBSN

Three people dead and six others are wounded after a shooting at a high school in Michigan according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

Driving the news: The alleged shooter was a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford High School and has been arrested, per police.

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.