World's oldest spacewoman sets spacewalking record

During Thursday's spacewalk, a regular event in support of space station assembly and maintenance, an essential piece of cloth shielding needed for the ISS went astray.

Whitson and Kimbrough were working on a docking port that will eventually be used by space taxis being developed by Boeing and privately owned Space Exploration Technologies.

She said: "I love being in space".

Whitson will be making the eighth and ninth spacewalks of her career more than any other female astronaut. Pesquet will undertake the second and third spacewalks in his career.

NASA said the shield will be monitored to make sure it doesn't come back and hit the station. It's supposed to be tethered to the station or spacewalker at all times. But the getaway items are usually small, like bolts.

Active on her Twitter account, @AstroPeggy, Whitson often writes about how research at the space station relates to everyday life, and how she travels the world as part of her astronaut training.

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Cameras on the station tracked the debris shield bag as it sailed into the distance.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will reconnect the cables and electrical connections on PMA-3 at its new home on top Harmony. It was one of four shield pieces to be installed in the hole left by a newly relocated docking port.

The world's oldest and most experienced spacewoman, Peggy Whitson, broke another record Thursday as she floated out of the International Space Station to set up a new parking spot.

Whitson during her seventh spacewalk in January. The first flight could occur as early as next year. This is her third space station stint.

With all three spacewalks complete and Cygnus safely attached, Kimbrough, Soyuz MS-02 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko plan to undock and return to Earth April 10, landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan around 7:20 a.m. (5:20 p.m. local time). NASA is hoping to take advantage of an extra seat in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that's due to launch next month and return in September.

The duo will be assisted by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who carried out spacewalk last week with Kimbrough. Shipper Orbital ATK is relying on the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V to haul up the goods.

  • Regina Walsh