NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has officially spent more time in space than any other American today.
Today, Whitson added another feat to her record-setting space scientist career at 1:27 a.m. EDT with her recent extension at the International Space Station. She broke records by spending 534 days, 2 hours, and 49 minutes (and counting) away from the planet.
Seasoned Record Holder
Currently on her third long-duration stay at the orbiting outpost, Whitson is no stranger to being a record holder, a NASA statement noted. She became the first woman to command the ISS in 2008, as well as the first woman to command it twice last April 9. Last March, she nabbed the record for most spacewalks conducted by a female.
After launching last Nov. 17 with a total of 377 days in space, she has conquered astronaut Jeff Williams’ previous U.S. record of 534 days, 2 hours, and 48 minutes of space-time.
In March her ISS mission was extended into September this year to allow for more time to devote to onboard experimentation. Once she goes back to Earth, she would have already spent over 650 days out in space, on top of decades of on-ground support for spaceflight.
The astronaut started her career at the space agency in the 1980s and held a couple of research positions with a biochemistry doctorate under her belt.
Declared the Shuttle-Mir Program’s project scientist in 1992, Whitson also assumed the deputy division chief post at the Medical Sciences Division of the Johnson Space Center, as well as sat as co-chairperson of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group. In 1996, she was then selected as an astronaut.
Blasting Off To ISS
Whitson first arrived at the ISS in 2002, as delivered by space shuttle Endeavour for a 184-day stay in the space station’s four modules during that time. It was a time to partake of 21 science probes, as well as become the first NASA science officer.
She returned in 2008 as Expedition 16 commander, spent another 192 days out in space, and did her first of five spacewalks.
Whitson was named chief of the astronaut office in 2009, the first woman to assume the position, which she did until 2012.
Since she returned in November for her third ISS stay, Whitson did another three spacewalks and brought her total time devoted outside the ISS to over 53 hours.
Trump Call And #CongratsPeggy
Social media cheers Whitson on with the hashtag #CongratsPeggy.
Earlier this month, Whitson told ABC News that she isn’t in it for the record.
“I’m definitely here for conducting the science,” said the astronaut, deeming it a truly important step toward sending humans to longer missions to Mars. “The sooner the better.”
She added, however, that there are remaining critical questions to answer, from the health implications of living in zero gravity to tackling radiation.