The International Space Station’s Expedition 50, discussed previously here at borg.com, is readying for the 199th spacewalk in support of ISS activities this morning, to be televised at 7 a.m. Central. It will be the eighth spacewalk for Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson, who will surpass NASA astronaut Suni Williams for completing the most spacewalks by a woman in the history of space travel. At age 56, Whitson is the oldest woman to fly in space. Stacking up some impressive space travel records, she is scheduled to command Expedition 51 later this year, which will make her the first woman to command two ISS expeditions. By the end of her stint on ISS this year, Whitson will have spent more time in space than any other U.S. Astronaut–male or female–to surpass the record of 534 days set by Astronaut Jeff Williams. Whitson is a biochemist from Mt. Ayr, Iowa.
This past weekend the ISS robotically moved the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3)–a pressurized interface between the station modules and the docking adapter–between modules. In what is scheduled as a 6 hour and 30 minutes spacewalk Whitson and Expedition Commander Shane Kimbrough will manually reconnect cables and electronics and install the second of two upgraded computer relay boxes on the ISS’s truss and install shields and covers on PMA-3 and the unused module port.
NASA’s most experienced female astronaut, Whitson has been onboard ISS since November 2016. This is her third space flight. Her first flight was in 2002 as a member of the crew of Expedition 5. In 2007 on her second flight she became the first woman flight commander, leading Expedition 16. Whitson had previously been tied with Suni Williams for an earlier spacewalk record that Whitson had also surpassed. Whitson continues to expand extravehicular activity (EVA) duration records.
Six astronauts are currently working aboard the ISS. Acting in support of EVA activities today are Russians Sergey Ryzhikov, Andrei Borisenko, and Oleg Novitskiy, and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
NASA Television coverage of the spacewalks will begin at 5:30 a.m. today, streamed live at this link: https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive. For more information about projects on the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.