US astronaut sets world record
Record set for longest uninterrupted space flight by a woman.
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2007 20:35 GMT

Crew members on the International Space Station including Sunita Williams [EPA]

A US astronaut has set a record for the longest uninterrupted space flight by a woman.


At 0547 GMT on Saturday, Sunita Williams, an International Space Station (ISS) engineer, surpassed the 188-day and four-hour mark set by her compatrio

Earlier this year, Williams logged 29 hours and 17 minutes in four space walks, eclipsing the record held by astronaut Kathryn Thornton for most spacewalk time by a woman.


In April, she became the first astronaut to run a marathon in orbit, finishing it in four hours and 24 minutes.

On Friday, astronauts closed a hole in the thermal blanket of space shuttle Atlantis. They also fixed two main computers aboard the ISS after an unprecedented 48-hour systems breakdown.


Brandy Dean, a Nasa spokeswoman said: "For now, it's working ... This is good news. It's very encouraging.


"The computers returned to full operation," Nasa said in a statement on Saturday.


Mike Suffredini, space station program manager, said: "I think we're in good shape ... We've got a talented group of people to look at attitude control."


No danger


Computers stabilise the station in orbit and manage critical oxygen and water supplies. Suffredini said the crew was not in danger.


"We are in a very good position from a life-support perspective ... We have plenty of oxygen on board," he said from the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.


Bill Gerstenmaier, Nasa associate administrator, said there was only "an extremely remote chance" that the problems could force the shuttle and ISS crews to abandon the station.


The astronauts completed the third of four planned spacewalks, with the most recent to repair a patch of thermal blanket to the rear of the shuttle.


The space walk, planned to last six hours and 30 minutes, lasted seven hours and 58 minutes.


Danny Olivas, an astronaut, used surgical staples to pin down a corner of the blanket, which came loose as the shuttle reached escape velocity from the Kennedy Space Centre on June 8.


Nasa engineers stressed that the hand-size opening posed no threat to the crew, unlike the broken tile that caused the Columbia to break up on re-entry in February 2003.


That disaster was caused by breaks in the shuttle's ceramic heat shield due to foam insulation peeling off its fuel tank and striking a wing during the launch.


Nasa has decided to prolong the mission two extra days until June 21 to make time for the repair.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
Part of the joint accord aimed at ending the political impasse establishes an independent National Election Commission.
Rights groups say the US prosecution of terrorism cases targets Muslims and are fraught with abuses.
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
join our mailing list