Astronaut Peggy Whitson Breaks Spacewalking Record for Women in Space

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson set a new spacewalking record for women in space Thursday (March 30) as she and associate NASA wanderer Shane Kimbrough ventured outward a International Space Station for a second time in 7 days.


The span set out during 7:29 a.m. EDT (1129 GMT) and spent 7 hours and 4 mins operative outward a orbiting lab. Four hours and 23 mins into a mission, Whitson pennyless a record for accumulative spacewalking time by a womanlike astronaut. NASA wanderer Suni Williams hold a record previously, with a sum of 50 hours and 40 minutes. Whitson, carrying finished her eighth spacewalk, cracked that record, racking adult a sum of 53 hours and 22 minutes.

Today’s spacewalk wrapped adult some ongoing work to get a space hire prepared to accommodate blurb spacecraft. This work began with a final spacewalk, on Mar 24, during that Kimbrough divided cables and electrical connectors on a Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 (PMA-3), that was relocated with a space station’s robotic arm dual days later. Despite a successful mission, a spacewalk wasn’t all triumphs — a astronauts incidentally mislaid some apparatus in a opening of space.

With a PMA-3 in place during a Harmony module, Whitson finished installing it by reconnecting those cables. She also private and stowed PMA-3’s thermal cover to make room for a new International Docking Adapter that is scheduled to arrive by 2018. Little did she or goal control know, though that protecting cover would come in accessible later, when things didn’t utterly go according to plan.

After Kimbrough finished installing a new outmost computer, he and Whitson met during a airlock to collect dual pairs of axial shields, that they lugged over to Node 3, or a Tranquility module, where PMA-3 was formerly located. Removing PMA-3 left a advancing pier during Node 3 exposed, and these shields yield insurance from micrometeoroids. Before a spacewalkers could tag down a shields, one incidentally slipped divided and drifted out of reach.

The axial defense is seen flapping divided from Shane Kimbrough (bottom right).
Credit: NASA

“Peggy, we don’t have a shield,” Kimbrough pronounced with a groan. Whitson looked around and located a brute square of equipment. “Ah… it is right by a radiator,” she said. “It is relocating hire culmination [space-ward], maybe half a feet a second.” She after questioned either a confusion between a education tag and a similar-looking tag on a defense competence have led to a shield’s escape.

Thankfully, belligerent control crews during NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston came adult with a resolution on a spot. They asked a spacewalkers to collect a cover Whitson had private from PMA-3 and hang it over a unprotected apportionment of Node 3. The EVA (extravehicular activity, or spacewalk) charge group “brought out some replicas of a apparatus on house and figured out a accurate measure and were means to come adult [in]  real-time — while a EVA was going on — all of these procedures to cover adult that unprotected spot,” NASA TV commentator Gary Jordan said. The axial measures about 5 feet (1.6 meters) long, 2 feet (0.6 m) far-reaching and 2.6 inches (6.6 cm) thick.

Kimbrough and Whitson work to implement axial shields on Node 3.
Credit: NASA

Now a cloth defense is orbiting Earth brazen of a space hire and poses no threat, Jordan said. The temporary cover will work for now, as it’s finished of a same element as a mislaid defense and retrofitted to a pier with tethers. Whether a defense will need to be transposed with destiny missions is nonetheless to be dynamic “[The] group will consider how permanent a PMA-3 cover resolution will be and consider a brazen plan, NASA orator Dan Huot told Space.com in an email, adding that it’s “too early to make a call.”

Despite a setback, these dual gifted spacewalkers breezed by all of their reserved tasks and even had time for one “get-ahead” task, in that they took some photos to consult a common berthing resource during Node 2, or a Harmony module, where PMA-3 now resides. These photos will assistance NASA consider what destiny work will need to be finished before blurb booster can wharf there.

Email Hanneke Weitering during hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original essay on Space.com.


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