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Astronaut Suni Williams Sets the Record Straight, and Long


Astronaut Suni Williams Sets the Record Straight, and Long


ISS015-E-08337 : Sunita Williams with exercise device Call it a great 
leap forward for women in space.

After six years of people, three of whom have been women, living in 
space aboard the International Space Station, the female time-in-space 
endurance record set 11 years ago has been broken.

And it was broken in a single flight.

Image to right: Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expedition 15 flight 
engineer, wearing squat harness pads, poses for a photo while using the 
Interim Resistive Exercise Device (IRED) equipment in the Unity node of 
the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

NASA Astronaut Sunita Williams set a new record this morning at 12:47 
CDT for the longest duration spaceflight by a woman. At that time, 
Williams surpassed Shannon Lucid’s mark of 188 days, 4 hours set in 1996.

Williams began her record-setting flight when she launched with the crew 
of STS-116 in December 2006. The Massachusetts native remained onboard 
the station as a member of the Expedition 14 crew and then joined the 
Expedition 15 crew in April. Her spaceflight will come to a close when 
she returns to Earth aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis with the STS-117 crew.

Although this is only her first spaceflight, Williams also became the 
record-holder for most hours outside a spacecraft by a female by 
completing four spacewalks during Expedition 15 with a total time of 29 
hours, 17 minutes.

ISS014-E-09992 : Sunita Williams conducts spacewalk “It was very 
exciting to watch her spacewalks and to watch her accumulate more 
spacewalk time than any other female in the universe,” said Lucid, who 
set the previous female space duration record while flying aboard the 
Russian Mir Space Station. “These [long-term] flights are providing the 
needed confidence so that some day in the near future we can depart 
low-Earth orbit and head on out to Mars.”

Image to left: Astronaut Sunita Williams participates in the STS-116 
mission's third planned spacewalk. Credit: NASA

During her stay on orbit, Williams has worked with experiments across a 
wide variety of fields, including human life sciences, physical sciences 
and Earth observation as well as education and technology demonstrations.

Some of these experiments give scientists critical insight into the 
effects of weightlessness on our bodies while others show ways to 
prevent effects we already know about like muscle and bone loss.

In addition to rigorous exercise, Williams also collected and stored her 
blood while in space to add to an ongoing study on nutrition, another 
key element of living in space for long stretches of time.

The results of this study may impact nutritional requirements and food 
systems developed for future ventures in space. “Her mission has been 
critically important to our overall space program,” said NASA Astronaut 
Eileen Collins, another female pioneer in spaceflight. Collins became 
the first woman to command a spaceflight mission during the STS-93 
mission on Space Shuttle Columbia.

“She truly is a space marathoner who shows young women everywhere that 
there's a place in the space program for them.” If her stay in space 
concludes as scheduled, with her return on Atlantis on June 21, Williams 
will have flown a total of 194 days in space.

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