In 2008, an astronaut lost her entire tool kit during a spacewalk.

The seven-hour operation was also notable for pushing Whitson into historic territory, overtaking Sunita Williams’s previous record for most time spent spacewalking by a woman: 50 hours and 40 minutes.

As Whitson and Kimbrough installed the three remaining shields, Mission Control quickly came up with a TV MacGyver-like plan for a patch. The lost fabric shield is relatively large: It weighs 18 pounds and, when unfolded, measures about 5 feet by 2 feet and is about 2 inches thick.

“The incident took place almost 3 1/2 hours after the commencement of the spacewalk“.

Two veteran United States astronauts were in the middle of a spacewalk when a 1.5m (5ft) debris shield being installed on the International Space Station (ISS) drifted away.

Whitson was already really impressive before Thursday. “That’s incredible”, Whitson radioed back to Mission Control, the Associated Press reports.

Images on NASA television showed the shield as a small white dot in the darkness.

The space station already has one IDA, and the second will be delivered on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. During 4 hours and 23 minutes into the mission, Whitson broke the record for spacewalking time by a woman astronaut with a total of 53 hours and 22 minutes. That is more days than any other woman.

The goal of the spacewalk was to continue upgrading the International Space Station for the arrival of commercial spaceships in the years to come. Then they turned to the shields, and that’s when one of the folded coverings got away. Marcia Dunn for the Associated Press said that this lost shielding protected the station from micrometeorite debris.

The duo were also tasked with installing four thermal protection shields on the Tranquility module of the International Space Station.

It was a disappointing turn of events in a record-setting spacewalk for Whitson, the world’s oldest and most experienced spacewoman.

American astronaut Peggy Whitson, 57, made her eighth career spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday. Whitson and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough – her partner for this spacewalk – lost shielding used to protect a piece of hardware from the potentially harmful impacts of space debris hitting the station.