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Sunita Williams sets women's spacewalking record
Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston | February 05, 2007 08:42 IST
Last Updated: February 05, 2007 12:31 IST
Indian-American astronaut Sunita 'Suni' Williams added another feather to her cap by spending more time spacewalking than any other woman to date.
Sunita reached the record of spending more than 21 hours in space on Sunday, when she, along with International Space Station commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, spacewalked for over seven hours.
The new record of 22 hours and 27 minutes includes her two most recent walks, as well as a spacewalk in December.
This was the third spacewalk for Sunita, who now holds the record for most spacewalking time by a female.
Former astronaut Kathy Thornton previously held that honor.
For Lopez-Algiers, it was the eighth spacewalk. He surpassed astronaut Steve Smith to vault into third place on the all-time spacewalking list for most hours spent outside.
Sunday's spacewalk was the 79th for station assembly and maintenance and the 51st done without a shuttle present.
Sunita and Lopez-Alegria on Sunday returned inside the outpost's Quest airlock and shut the outer hatch, settling down to enjoy the spectacular Super Bowl football game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts.
On Monday, Lopez-Alegria and Sunita will recharge batteries and prepare their spacesuits and tools for the next spacewalk set for Thursday morning. This walk will be the most attempted in so short a period of time by any space station astronauts without the crew of a shuttle also present to assist them.
At the conclusion of the third spacewalk from the Quest airlock on February 8 and a Russian spacewalk planned for February 22, Lopez-Alegria will have completed his 10th spacewalk, an astronaut record. Sunita will have a total of four, the most ever by a woman.
During their first two spacewalks, Sunita and Lopez-Alegria disabled the station's six-year-old temporary cooling system.
By disconnecting and reconnecting a series of eight tubes they re-routed the flow of ammonia coolant into a permanent network of external radiators.
The spacewalkers shifted cooling for computers and flight control boxes in the station's US science module to the permanent system on Monday.
During Wednesday's spacewalk, they did the same for the station's life support systems.