NASA announced this week that Astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has already set several space flight records and will soon break Scott Kelly’s record for most time in space by a US Astronaut, will be staying on the International Space Station for an additional three months.
Originally scheduled to return home in June this year with her crewmates Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet she will instead transition to the Expedition 52 crew and return home with Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer in September.
This was possible because Russia has now switched to a two cosmonaut crew rotation plan, this would have meant that only two people would have been on the station after Peggy and her crew left in June. This extension will allow the station to keep a full complement of people on the station allowing them to continue the same level of science investigations that has been established recently.
When Peggy returns home in September she will have the third longest consecutive stay on the ISS a record that was set last year by Scott Kelly and Mikhail Korniyenko when they spent 340 days aboard the station.
Today Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson completed a 7 hour 4 minute Extravehicular Activity (EVA) bring the total count of EVA’s performed at the International Space Station (ISS) to 199 for a total time of 1,243 hours 42 minutes.
During the EVA they completed the following primary tasks:-
EPIC MDM removal & replace
Node 3 axial shields install, including replacing a lost shield with the PMA-3 cover.
PMA-3 forward shield install
PMA-3 cummerbunds install
PMA-3 cover removal
Close Node 3 port CDC
As well as the following get-ahead tasks:-
Inspection & cleaning of the Earth-facing berthing port of the Harmony module
During the installation of the Node 3 axial shields, one of them was misplaced and later was seen floating away from the station.
This was Peggy’s eighth EVA for a total time of 53 hours, 22 minutes, making her the most experienced female spacewalker, both for the number of EVAs and cumulative career EVA time.
This was Shane’s sixth EVA for a total time of 39 hours.