The Latest: Spacewalking astronauts salvage job, back inside

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Posted: Mar 30, 2017 2:42 PM
The Latest: Spacewalking astronauts salvage job, back inside

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on a spacewalk at the International Space Station (all times local):

2:33 p.m.

Two astronauts are back inside following a spacewalk that took an unintended turn when a piece of equipment got away.

Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough (KIM-broh) lost a vital cloth shield for the International Space Station midway through their spacewalk Thursday. Mission Control quickly came up with a plan for a patch, which worked. NASA says the lost shield — essentially 18 pounds of fabric — poses no threat to the orbiting complex.

Whitson now holds the record for the most spacewalks by a woman — eight — and the most accumulated spacewalking time for a woman — around 53 hours.

Thursday's spacewalk lasted seven hours.

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11:55 a.m.

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.

The cloth bundle floated away Thursday midway through a spacewalk by Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough (KIM-broh). Whitson immediately reported the mishap to Mission Control, which tracked the item as it drifted away. Nearly two hours later, the shield was seen as a white speck in the distance. Mission Control said there was no risk of it hitting the space station.

Whitson, meanwhile, has set a new spacewalking record for women. She has surpassed the 50-hour, 40-minute mark of accumulated spacewalking time, previously set by former station resident Sunita Williams. This is the eighth spacewalk of Whitson's career, more than any other woman. At age 57, Whitson is the oldest spacewoman ever and also the most experienced.

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10:30 a.m.

Spacewalking astronauts have lost an important piece of shielding needed for the International Space Station.

The cloth bundle floated away Thursday midway through a spacewalk by Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough (KIM-broh). Whitson immediately reported the mishap to Mission Control, which tracked the item as it drifted away.

NASA said the shield will be monitored to make sure it doesn't come back and hit the station. The shielding protects against micrometeorite debris. It was one of four shield pieces to be installed in the hole left by a newly relocated docking port.

It was a disappointing turn of events in a record-setting spacewalk for Whitson, the world's oldest and most experienced spacewoman. It was the eighth spacewalk of her career, the most ever performed by a woman.

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7:40 a.m.

The world's oldest and most experienced spacewoman has just set another record, this time for spacewalking.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson floated out on the eighth spacewalk of her career Thursday morning, 250 miles up at the International Space Station. That's the most spacewalks ever performed by a woman.

Whitson and her spacewalking partner, Shane Kimbrough (KIM-broh), need to complete prep work on a docking port. Kimbrough disconnected the port during a spacewalk last Friday. Flight controllers in Houston moved it to a new location Sunday. It will serve as a parking spot for future commercial crew capsules.

Midway through Thursday's spacewalk, Whitson will surpass the current record for women of 50 hours and 40 minutes of total accumulated spacewalking time.

The 57-year-old Whitson has been in orbit since November.