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US astronaut breaks record for most spacewalks by a woman

MIAMI: American astronaut Peggy Whitson made history when she floated outside the International Space Station on Thursday, breaking the record for the most spacewalks by a woman.

Whitson, 57, is making her eighth career spacewalk, surpassing the record of seven previously held by American Suni Williams.

The spacewalk formally began at 7:29 am (1129 GMT) when Whitson and Shane Kimbrough switched their spacesuits to battery power before venturing outside the airlock and into the vacuum of space.

“Be safe and enjoy your time out,” said French astronaut Thomas Pesquet as the hatch opened.

“I will be waiting for you.”

The goal of the spacewalk is to continue upgrading the International Space Station for the arrival of commercial spaceships in the years to come.

Thursday’s walkabout is the second in a series of three spacewalks to outfit the exterior of the orbiting outpost with parking spots for a new generation of space taxis ferrying astronauts to the station.

SpaceX and Boeing are currently designing crew vehicles that will begin flying people to the ISS as early as next year.

 

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