Spacewalking astronauts lose piece of shielding

by Fredrick Graves March 31, 2017, 1:52

Whitson and Kimbrough will finish cable connections at the Pressurised Mating Adapter-3 just recently attached to the Harmony module's space-facing port.

She arrived at the space station in November, after previously serving on two six-month missions at the orbiting outpost in 2002 and 2008.

"Thank you guys, you did an unbelievable job, you had to deal with, obviously, the issue early on and came up with a great plan", Kimbrough radioed flight controllers.

It was not immediately clear how the shield got away, said NASA spokesman Dan Huot.

While not a flawless fit, the cover will help protect the station from impacts and provide thermal shielding, NASA said.

The first spacewalk took place March 24 with Kimbrough and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet. But the getaway items are usually small, like bolts.

Spacewalking astronauts have lost an important piece of shielding needed for the International Space Station. A statement on NASA's website said the shield "was inadvertently lost" and "posed no immediate danger to the astronauts". When unfolded, it is about 2 inches thick and measures about 5 feet by 2 feet.

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The shielding protects against micrometeorite debris.

The space walk formally began at 7:29am when Whitson and her NASA colleague Shane Kimbrough switched their spacesuits to battery power before venturing into space. PMA-3 will provide the pressurized interface between the station and the second of two worldwide docking adapters to be delivered to the complex to support the dockings of US commercial crew spacecraft in the future.

The spacewalkers hooked up vital heater cables to the docking port and removed a cover from the top.

Relocating the PMA-3 makes the ISS ready for new International Docking Adapter-3 set to be delivered on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo mission.

Whitson, meanwhile, has set a new spacewalking record for women.

Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson, setting a new record as the world's most experienced female spacewalker, floated outside the International Space Station Thursday and continued work to set up a second docking port for USA crew ferry ships. This is her third space station stint.

Now on her third long-duration spaceflight, Whitson is the oldest woman to ever fly in space. She has spent more than 50 hours walking in space from the station circling 250 miles above the Earth.

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