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Astronaut Peggy Whitson closes in on spacewalk record

31 March 2017

She broke the out-of-this-world record on her eighth mission outside the International Space Station today, beating out NASA astronaut Sunita Williams who previously held the title with 50 hours and 40 minutes of spacewalk time.

Whitson, 57, is considered the oldest and most experienced woman astronaut in history, the Associated Press reported.

Whitson along with Kimbrough finish cable connections at the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 just recently attached to the Harmony module's space-facing port.

About four hours into the spacewalk, however, NASA determined that the gear had drifted a safe distance away and there was "no recontact risk", said NASA commentator Gary Jordan.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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Whitson and Pesquet are officially scheduled to carry out another spacewalk April 6, but needed equipment is awaiting launch aboard an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship that has been grounded by work to fix hydraulic lines in the freighter's Atlas 5 rocket. Astronauts adapted, using another piece of hardware to complete the task, Mission Control said.

But whenever the next spacewalk takes place, Whitson is expected to move up to No. 3 on the list of world's most experienced spacewalkers with a total time of about 59 hours over nine EVAs.

The spacewalk is the second of three that is preparing the ISS for a second International Docking Adapter, which will allow more commercial spacecraft to dock with the station in the future. She and her two Soyuz MS-03 crewmates, Pesquet and Soyuz commander Oleg Novitskiy, will have the station to themselves until April 20 when Soyuz MS-04 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA flight engineer Jack Fischer arrive after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The second of the two upgraded computer relay boxes on the station's truss will be installed by these astronauts who will perform the second spacewalk. During the spacewalk, one of the shields was inadvertently lost.

Now on her third long-duration spaceflight, Whitson is the oldest woman to ever fly in space. This will be the 198th, 199th and 200th spacewalks in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

The new avionics box will be launched aboard Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo craft this month.