Spacewalking Duo Fixes Problem; Williams Beats Whitson for Spacewalk Duration

Spacewalking Duo Fixes Problem; Williams Beats Whitson for Spacewalk Duration

Two International Space Station (ISS) astronauts succeeded today in mounting a Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) to the outside of the ISS after being foiled in their attempt last week by a faulty bolt.  This was the sixth career spacewalk by NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who now holds the record for spacewalking duration by a woman.

Williams and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide spent 6 hours and 28 minutes on their spacewalk, the second in less than a week.   Their first venture outside the ISS, which had been scheduled for about the same length of time, ended up taking 8 hours and 17 minutes as they tried and tried and tried again to coax the bolt into its proper position.   It would not budge, however, and the spacewalkers came back inside to give ground-based colleagues a chance to troubleshoot the problem.

Today, armed with new tools and procedures, they succeeded.  They also were able to complete another task on their to-do list from last week, installing a new camera on Canadarm2, the robotic arm on ISS. 

NASA astronaut Suni Williams and Japanese

astronaut Aki Hoshide during Sept. 4, 2012

spacewalk.   Photo credit:  NASA

Williams and Hoshide were assisted by NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, who operated Canadarm2 and monitored the spacewalk from inside the ISS.   Three Russians also are aboard the ISS — Gennady Padalka, Yuri Malenchenko, and Sergei Revin.   Padalka and Malenchenko did a spacewalk earlier in the mission.

Williams now holds the record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a woman.   She has conducted a total of six spacewalks on her various missions for a total of 44 hours and 2 minutes.  That beats the previous record held by Peggy Whitson, now chief of the astronaut office.  Whitson also did six spacewalks over the course of her spaceflights for a total of 39 hours 46 minutes.   According to a list on Wikipedia of the top 30 astronauts and cosmonauts ranked by longest cumulative spacewalk durations, that puts Williams at number 17, one minute ahead of Michael Fossum and 16 minutes behind Andrew Feustel.  The record holder, Russia’s Anatoly Solovyev, has almost twice that much — 82 hours 22 minutes accumulated during 16 spacewalks.  Whitson and Williams are the only two women on the list.

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