Astronaut Peggy Whitson celebrates female spacewalk record
Whitson broke the previous record, held by astronaut Sunita Williams, with a cumulative total of 53 hours and 20 minutes, reached on her eighth such venture into the darkness of space outside the ISS on Thursday.
The 57-year-old was accompanied by station commander Shane Kimbrough on the 6.5-hour spacewalk.
Around the midway point of their mission, there was one slight mishap: At approximately 10am EDT (1400 GMT) on Thursday, a debris shield which was due to be installed to protect a docking port on the station became unhinged and floated off into space.
Des astronautes de l’ISS perdent une couverture dans l’espace pic.twitter.com/B5sKvC640K— BFMTV (@BFMTV) March 31, 2017
The 5ft (1.5m) debris shield will join 21,000 other pieces of space junk flying around the globe in Earth’s orbit at approximately 250 miles (402 km) above solid ground.
An investigation has been launched into what exactly took place that allowed the 5ft (1.5m), 17lbs (8kg) debris shield to float off into space. The minor incident (objects have been known to float away on space walks regularly) wasn’t enough to dampen spirits both on the ISS and in mission control, however.
🎵 These boots are made for spacewalking 🎵 ;) pic.twitter.com/A3lqA9HH4j— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) March 31, 2017
Whitson is scheduled to return to Earth in June but, according to the AP, she may yet extend her time in space until September.