World's Oldest Female Astronaut Sets New Record in Space

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson on Thursday created history and broke Indian-American scientist Sunita William's record for the most spacewalks by a woman as she floated outside the International Space Station (ISS).

But her accomplishments don't stop there.

Astronauts at the International Space Station were on a spacewalk when a large debris shield got away.

Now on her third long-duration spaceflight, Whitson is the oldest woman to ever fly in space. By that time, she'll likely have spent more time spacewalking than any other American astronaut -male or female.

It was her eighth spacewalk - the most of any female astronaut. Mission control tracked the white dot as it receded from view, and concluded that it posed no immediate threat to the space station. Now that the PMA-3 is prepared at the Harmony module, Whitson finalized installing the device by re-establishing the connections between the cables.

With this spacewalk, Whitson has now walked in space a total of eight times. After Kimbrough installed a new external computer, he and Whitson made a decision to meet at the airlock to recollect two pairs of axial shields which they carried over to the Tranquility module where PMA-3 was previously situated.

The astronauts don't know how the 5-foot, 18-pound shield drifted off. The spacewalk aims to adjust a docking port, which will be used as a parking spot for SpaceX and Boeing commercial crew capsules.

Whitson undertook her first space mission in 2002 and most recently launched into space in November a year ago, according to NPR.

During today's spacewalk, Whitson hooked up heater cables and remove a thermal cover from PMA-3 while Kimbrough installed an upgraded computer relay box in the station's power truss. Flight controllers in Houston moved it to a new location Sunday. Last month, she turned 57 in orbit, the oldest woman in space.

Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev holds the all-time spacewalking record, with 16 separate spacewalks and more than 82 hours of cumulative spacewalking time.

In the meantime, Kimbrough, Soyuz MS-02 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko are scheduled to return to Earth on April 10, landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan to close out a 173-day mission. Shipper Orbital ATK is relying on the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V to haul up the goods.

  • Tracy Ferguson