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article imageAstronaut Peggy Whitson became oldest woman to walk in space

By Arthur Weinreb     Jan 7, 2017 in Science
When she took off for the International Space Station (ISS) in November, Peggy Whitson became the oldest woman to go into space. Yesterday the 56-year-old became the oldest woman to take part in a spacewalk.
Flight Engineer Whitson and Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough began their spacewalk at 7:23 p.m. EST Friday and completed it six hours and 32 minutes later. During their walk in space, Kimbrough and Whitson installed three adaptor plates and connected three of the new lithium-ion batteries that are replacing the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently being used. Whitson and Kimbrough also completed various other minor tasks. Much of the installation of the new batteries was done by robotics.
The work on the batteries is scheduled to be completed on Jan. 13 when Kimbrough and French astronaut Thomas Pasquet will venture out of the ISS.
Whitson obtained a PhD [PDF] in biochemistry from Rice University in 1985. Among the positions she held with NASA, she worked as a biochemist at the Johnson Space Center between 1989 and 1993. In 1991 and 1992, Whitson was a payload developer for a bone cell research experiment and was a member of a joint U.S./USSR joint working group in space medicine and biology. Between 1992 and 1995, Whitson served as the Project Scientist for the Shuttle-Mir Program and in 1995-96, she served as co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group.
Whitson was selected for astronaut training in April 1996 and undertook her first spaceflight in 2002 as part of the crew of Expedition 5. She spent six months on the International Space Station and flew again in 2008. On her second foray into space, she became the first female commander of the International Space Station. On these two missions, she spent 377 days in space and took part in six spacewalks. These spacewalks totalled 39 hours and 46 minutes.
Yesterday's spacewalk for Whitson is her seventh, tying her with NASA’S Suni Williams for the most spacewalks by a female astronaut. In March, she will become commander of the ISS, becoming the only woman to hold that position on two occasions.
Earlier in the week, Whitson gave an interview to the Associated Press. She told the AP she’s finding it easier to get used to space than it was in 2008. She said she “loves it in space,” and she “sleeps like a baby.” The astronaut added nothing hurts when you sleep in space and she is able to sleep the whole night through.
Whitson will be in command of the International Space Station on Feb. 9 when turns 57.
More about astronaut peggy whitson, Spacewalk, NASA, International Space Station, Iss
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