WASHINGTON – US astronaut Peggy Whitson has broken the record for most days in space by an American astronaut.
Whitson, 57, broke the record for the most cumulative time in space by an American astronaut early Monday, streaking past the 534-day record held by Jeff Williams. The 879-day global record, held by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, still stands.
— Peggy Whitson (@AstroPeggy) April 23, 2017
Dr Whitson already holds records for the most spacewalks carried out by a woman astronaut and is the first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS) twice.
It’s thought President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka will call Dr Whitson on Monday to congratulate her.
International Space Station congratulated Ms Whitson for achieving this milestone.
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) April 24, 2017
At 57, she is also the oldest woman to have gone to space. Dr Whitson already holds the record for longest time spent in space by a woman.
Born in Iowa, she has an advanced degree in biochemistry and worked for Nasa in several prominent medical science and research positions, before being selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996.
She first went into space in 2002 and became the first woman to command the ISS in 2007.
By the time she returns to Earth in September, Whitson will have spent 666 days in floating above the planet. She hopes she won’t hold the title for long.
“I’m not here because of the record,” Whitson told ABC News via video teleconference from aboard the ISS earlier this month. “I’m definitely here for conducting the science.”