NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson now holds the record for the most spacewalks by a woman. Whitson achieved the milestone on March 30, when she went outside the International Space Station.
This is the eighth spacewalk by the 57-year old Whitson who broke the previous record of seven spacewalks by American astronaut Sunita Williams.
Whitson's Spacewalk Record
The spacewalk started at 7:29 a.m. with Whitson and her fellow astronaut Shane Kimbrough venturing out of ISS. The two stepped out to continue the upgrades of the ISS.
On March 30, Whitson and Kimbrough went out of ISS' airlock to finish the cable connection of the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3, which has been attached recently to the Harmony module's space-facing port.
The Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 will host the new International Docking Adapter-3, set to be delivered to ISS by SpaceX on a Dragon cargo mission.
"Be safe and enjoy your time out," said Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut before both the astronauts ventured into space.
The astronauts continued working outside the orbiting lab for seven hours and four minutes. Williams created the previous record with a spacewalk of total 50 hours and 40 minutes, which was surpassed by Whitson who logged 53 hours and 22 minutes.
The spacewalk was a conclusion of ongoing trials to ready the ISS for the arrival of commercial spacecrafts. The work started on March 24, which was the last spacewalk before this, in which some cables — along with electric connections — were disconnected by Kimbrough on the Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 or PMA-3. After two days it was moved with the robotic arm of the space station.
Who Is Whitson?
Whitson is a biochemistry doctorate and was the first woman commander of a space station in 2008. She hails from Iowa and is known to be witty and humorous.
Earlier in March, Whitson shared in an interview that she was at the orbiting lab, developing stem cells required for a scientific experiment on cancer cell therapies.
She came to the space station in November 2016, after serving on two six-month missions in 2002 and 2008 at the orbiting outpost.
"I traveled to Russia eight times in the last 1.5 year training flow, two times to Japan and one time to Cologne," Whitson recently wrote in a blog post.
She is about to break another record on April 24 — for the most number of days spent in space by an American astronaut, when she crosses 534 days in orbit. The current holder of this record is astronaut Jeff Williams.