International Space Station Commander Peggy Whitson has broken the record for cumulative time spent in space by a NASA astronaut. Whitson is currently serving her third stint aboard the ISS, and with five months of her mission remaining, is set to rack up over 650 days in space before touching back down on Earth.
The latest achievement in Whitson's long and storied career occurred at 1:27 AM on April 24, when her cumulative time in low-Earth orbit surpassed the previous record holder Jeffrey Williams' time of 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes.
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President Trump, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and First Daughter Ivanka Trump will hold a 20 minute call with Whitson at 10 AM EDT today to congratulate her on the remarkable milestone.
Whitson was first selected as an astronaut in 1996, and served her first 184-day expedition to the ISS in 2002, back when the station was composed of only four modules. During her next tour in 2008, Peggy made history by becoming the first female commander of the ISS. While aboard the station, Whitson assisted with the expansion of the ISS, including the addition of Columbus laboratory and Kibo logistics modules, alongside undertaking countless scientific experiments.
Peggy's latest achievement was not her only record breaking moment since blasting off on Nov. 17 2016 for her latest tour of duty atop a Russian-built Soyuz rocket. For her third expedition to space, Whitson became the first female astronaut to hold command over the ISS on two separate occasions.
Peggy Whitson signing her name on an ISS bulkhead next to her expedition 50 crew patch (Credit: NASA)
In March, Whitson entered the history books once more as she departed an airlock of the orbiting station for the eighth time to set a new record for the most spacewalks undertaken by a female astronaut.
Peggy, who has already clocked over 53 hours clinging to the outer hull of the ISS, is set to boost her numbers even further on May 12, when she is scheduled to perform yet another spacewalk.
Live coverage of President Trump's call to Whitson will be streamed live on NASA's YouTube channel.
Source: NASAView gallery - 3 images