NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Breaks Female Spacewalking Record

During the spacewalk, which lasted just over seven hours, Kimbrough and Whitson also installed a different shield around the base of the PMA-3 adapter for micrometeoroid protection.

The space agency noted the two astronauts finally finished covering the spot with a PMA-3 cover they removed earlier in the day.

The cloth shielding is used to protect the station against micrometeorites from space - and astronauts Whitson and Shane Kimbrough were conducting a spacewalk to install four pieces of it.

While things flying off into space is not entirely unusual, on this occasion, there were concerns given the size and weight of the object.

The astronauts don't know how the 5-foot, 18-pound shield drifted off.

After coming loose, the bundled-up shield quickly floated away and became visible in the distance as a white dot. It will be the International Space Station's 200th spacewalk. A few hours after it came loose, Mission Control also determined that the shield posed no risk to the ISS and will eventually burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

Whitson is extremely famous and this was her 8th spacewalk. The shield was nicknamed a cummerbund as it fits around the adapter similar to a tuxedo's cummerbund worn around the waist.

During 4 hours and 23 minutes into the mission, Whitson broke the record for spacewalking time by a woman astronaut with a total of 53 hours and 22 minutes.

While wrapping up work on a docking port on the International Space Station on Thursday, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson set two new spacewalk records. The 57-year old astronaut now ranks fifth on the list of all-time spacewalking by any astronaut.

Whitson managed to break records during the spacewalk, becoming the oldest and most experienced woman to perform a spacewalk, but the task was not without incident - the pair accidentally dropped a key piece of cloth shielding from the ISS, and it's now been lost in the vast expanse of space.

She's been on board the ISS since November.

  • Carolyn Briggs