Watch Peggy Whitson Historic Spacewalk On International Space Station

Over the weekend, flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center used the station's robot arm to move the extension, known as pressurized mating adapter No. 3, or PMA-3, from Tranquility to the upper port of Harmony. This is her third space station stint.

A veteran of two earlier long-duration station visits, Whitson is expected to set a new record for cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut, surpassing Sunita Williams' mark of 50 hours and 40 minutes. Cameras tracked the shielding as it drifted into the distance, and Mission Control said there was no danger the lost shield could hit and damage the space station.

NASA spokesman Dan Huot said the three remaining shields were installed to cover the most vulnerable spots, the report said.

NASA says there is no chance the International Space Station will be struck by a piece of thermal shielding that got away from spacewalking astronauts.

While the first spacewalk was conducted on Friday, March 24, other two will be conducted on April 2 and April 7.

Spacewalkers have lost objects before but usually the items are small, like bolts. This will be the 199th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

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Each fabric shield weighs 18 pounds.

Whitson's last spacewalk was on January 6 with Commander Shane Kimbrough when she hooked up new lithium-ion batteries and inspected the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. It will serve as a parking spot for future commercial crew capsules. It was one of four shield pieces to be installed in the hole left by a newly relocated docking port.

A Russian holds the all-time spacewalking record: Anatoly Solovyev with 16.

A space blanket floated away from American astronaut Peggy Whitson on Thursday as she made a historic spacewalk outside the International Space Station, setting a new record for the most spacewalks by a woman.

SpaceX and Boeing are now designing crew vehicles that will begin flying people to the ISS as early as next year. After today, Whitson will hav accumulated 59 hours in spacewalking, but hey, that could grow-she won't be back on Earth until sometime in the fall. A shipment with replacement parts needed for that spacewalk is on hold because of rocket concerns at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

  • Douglas Reid