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Lopez-Alegria breaks U.S. spacewalking record

February 09, 2007|From the Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. — Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria broke the U.S. record for most time walking in space Thursday as he and another astronaut did maintenance work outside the International Space Station during their third spacewalk in nine days.

Lopez-Alegria surpassed the previous U.S. record of 58 hours and 32 minutes midway through his chores with fellow American Sunita Williams. He has some way to go to claim the all-time record, though -- Russian Anatoly Solovyev logged more than 82 hours.

The 6 1/2 -hour spacewalk ended at 12:06 p.m. PST Thursday.

"They were all three extremely difficult [spacewalks], and you guys made them look not necessarily easy, but the way they should look," Mission Control said. "You did an excellent job."

Lopez-Alegria and Williams finished a primary mission of the their spacewalk: tossing quilt-size thermal sheets from the space station.

The two large thermal covers were folded up with smaller shrouds that had been covering an electronics box and were used to prevent parts of the space station from getting too hot or cold. Engineers believe they will burn up upon entering Earth's atmosphere in about three weeks.

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