Peggy Whitson made headlines several years ago, and she's about to do so again on board the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is already a decorated individual, becoming the first female commander of the Internatonal Space Station nearly 10 years ago on her second mission. Now, the veteran astronaut is about to set a remarkable new record by becoming NASA’s most experienced astronauts with 534 days in space.
Whitson downplayed it in interviews, saying she doesn’t pay attention to space records. When she does finally return to Earth, she’ll have spent a whopping 666 days in space, which would per her at seventh in the world with 132 days more than the current NASA record holder, Jeff Williams. She’d also have 146 days more than Scott Kelly, who completed a nearly year-long stay on the ISS.
Whitson is also fifth on the list of most experienced spacewalkers with eight of them, the last completed March 30. Another spacewalk would move her up to third all time.
Whitson was launched aboard a Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft back on Nov. 17 for her third visit to the ISS.
“This is great news,” Whitson said in a statement. “I love being up here. Living and working aboard the space station is where I feel like I make the greatest contribution, so I am constantly trying to squeeze every drop out of my time here. Having three more months to squeeze is just what I would wish for.”
“Peggy’s skill and experience makes her an incredible asset aboard the space station,” said Kirk Shireman, NASA’s International Space Station Program Manager. “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.”