She set the U.S. record Monday for most cumulative days in space, surpassing astronaut Jeff Williams’ record of 534 days, NASA said.
The president called the astronaut and commander of the International Space Station to congratulate her on breaking the record for the longest cumulative stay in space by a United States astronaut.
As per a NASA tweet, at 1:27 am ET on April 24, Whitson officially broke astronaut Jeff William’s record of 534 days in space.
She broke the record, set a year ago by astronaut Jeff Williams, at 10 AM Monday morning, when she received a congratulatory call from President Trump. She has logged more hours spacewalking than any other woman – 57 hours and 22 minutes over eight spacewalks. Her current mission launched in November, and though it originally was scheduled to return home in June, is now scheduled to last until September.
President Trump spoke Monday morning with Whitson via video, where he congratulated her on the record-breaking achievement and mentioned his signing of the NASA authorization bill, as well as his efforts to increase military funding.
The world record – 879 days – is held by Russian Gennady Padalka.
“Well, I think as your bill directed, it will be approximately in the 2030s”, Whitson said, explaining that “space flight takes a lot of time and money, so getting there will require some global cooperation”.
But Monday, Trump said he wants an astronaut to get to Mars in his first or second term as president, “so we’ll have to speed that up a little bit”. “I’m glad to hear that”.
After earning a doctorate in biochemistry in 1985, Whitson worked as a Nasa scientist for seven years before starting as an astronaut in 1997.
In addition to spending 535 consecutive days in space, Whitson became the first woman commander of the International Space Station in 2008.
In this January 13, 2017 file photo made available by NASA, astronaut Peggy Whitson, center, floats inside the Quest airlock of the International Space Station with Thomas Pesquet, left, and Shane Kimbrough before their spacewalk.
Better yet, you can actually see the ISS as it passes over Arizona.
“Who’s ready to go to Mars up there?” he asked the astronauts.
This is Whitson’s third long duration trip aboard the International Space Station.
He said he’s more impressed by the astronauts than by any of the politicians he deals with in Washington. It was Donald Trump.