NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the record for the most spacewalks by a woman, is all set to spend some extra time aboard the International Space Station.

The highly experienced spacewoman went to the ISS in November 2016 and was due to journey back to Earth in June this year.

However, according to a new agreement signed by Roscosmos and NASA, Whitson will now remain at the space station for an additional three months as part of Expedition 52. She will return home aboard a Soyuz capsule in September.

Whitson's Extended ISS Stay

After the news of the three-month extended stay reached Whitson, the astronaut was overjoyed. An elated Whitson tweeted that she looked forward to the extended ISS stay.

Whitson's extended stay at the ISS is for a purpose. For the unfamiliar, Russia has temporarily reduced the crew it will send to the ISS to two cosmonauts. With Whitson's extension, the space agencies have ensured that the ISS maintains its full crew of six astronauts.

"Peggy's skill and experience makes her an incredible asset aboard the space station. By extending the stay of one of NASA's most veteran astronauts, our research, our technology development, our commercial and our international partner communities will all benefit," shared Kirk Shireman, NASA's ISS Program Manager.

The 3 extra months will take Whitson's ISS stay tally to 10. Scientists on Earth are eager to learn how the prolonged stay in a micro-gravitational environment has impacted the spacewoman's body.

The Oldest Spacewoman

Whitson is currently 57 years old and is the oldest woman ever to undertake space travel. She is on her third stint at the ISS and has collectively spent more than 500 days outside Earth.

On April 24, she is slated to break the all-time record for the most days spent in space, which is 534 days and held by Jeffrey Williams.

On March 30, Whitson took part in her eighth spacewalk, becoming the only woman astronaut to do so in history. Back in 2008, she became the first female astronaut to command the ISS. Come April 9, she will hold the distinction of becoming the first female astronaut to command it two times.

NASA officials stated that her experience and skill have made Whitson an incredible asset to the mission. Whitson's extension means better handling and proper functioning of the space station, till the time she heads back to Earth.

Whitson will return with NASA's Jack Fischer and Roscosmos' Fyodor Yurchikhin aboard the Soyuz space craft.

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