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Image: Peggy Whitson


NASA Astronaut Sets New Record for Americans in Space

NASA's Peggy Whitson, 57, has broken many records, but now she's spent more time in space than any other American astronaut.

Image: NASA astronauts speak with Trump while on ISS

Peggy Whitson, the first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS), on Monday broke the record for the most time accumulated in orbit by an American, surpassing the record of 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes set last year by Jeffrey Williams.

She was already the world's most experienced woman astronaut and spacewalker and, at 57, the oldest woman in space. Here's a look back at her barrier-breaking career.

Above: Whitson speaks to President Trump on April 24, 2017, from aboard the ISS as astronaut Jack Fischer looks on. 


NASA via AFP - Getty Images

First Station Mission

Whitson's current space station mission is her third. Her first came in 2002.

Above: Crew members head to the launch pad for the space shuttle Endeavour on June 5, 2002 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Whitson is at center, second row.  

Bruce Weaver / AFP
Peggy Whitson

First Woman Commander

Whitson became the first woman to command the ISS in 2007.

Above: Whitson smiles just before the launch of the Russian Soyuz rocket at the Baikonur cosmodrome on Oct. 10, 2007. 

Mikhail Metzel / AP
Image: Peggy Whinston and Pam Melroy

Women in Charge

While Whitson was commanding the ISS, the space shuttle Discovery, commanded by Pam Melroy, docked at the station, marking the first time both spacecraft had been commanded by women simultaneously.

Above: Whitson poses with Melroy, commander of STS-120, on Oct. 27, 2007, in the Unity node of the ISS. 

Image: Peggy Whitson


Whitson participates in a spacewalk that lasted more than seven hours on Oct. 10, 2007. During the spacewalk, Whitson and astronaut Daniel Tani replaced a motor at the base of one of the station's solar wings.

Image: Ground crew help U.S. astronaut Whitson after landing in northern Kazakhstan

Coming Home

The ground crew helps Whitson after her landing in northern Kazakhstan on April 19, 2008. The Russian space capsule landed about 260 miles off course in Kazakhstan but the three-member crew was safe. 

Sergei Remezov / Reuters
Image: ISS crew member Whitson of the U.S. attends examination training outside Moscow

Fifty Seven Trips Around the Sun

Barbara Morgan held the previous record for world's oldest spacewoman. She was 55 when she flew a space shuttle mission in 2007. 

Whitson turned 57 in February while aboard the ISS. 

John Glenn set the record for the oldest man in space when he flew aboard the space shuttle at age 77. 

Above: Whitson smiles during an examination in Star City outside Moscow on Oct. 25, 2016.

Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters
Image: Expedition 50/51 to launch to the International Space Station

Preparing for Launch

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft set to carry Whitson and her two crewmates is transported to the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 13, 2016. 

Image: Peggy Whitson

Final Trim

Whitson gets her hair cut on Nov. 14, 2016, at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. 

Bill Ingalls / NASA
Image: Expedition 50 Crew Board Soyuz

Blast Off!

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome with Expedition 50 crewmembers Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and France's Thomas Pesquet from the Baikonur cosmodrome early on Nov. 18, 2016.


Bill Ingalls / NASA via EPA
Image: Peggy Whitson

Floating free

Whitson tweeted this photo of herself at the space station on Nov. 29, 2016, adding, "Gotta love zero gravity!"

Image: Peggy Whitson

Spacewalk #7

On Jan. 6, 2017, Whitson performs her seventh spacewalk.

Image: ISS Pass

Streak of Light

The ISS, with Whitson aboard, crosses the sky over the U.S. Capitol on March 29, 2017, in a ten-second exposure.

Joel Kowsky / NASA
Image: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson sets record-breaking for most cumulative days in space aboard the International Space Station

Second Command

Whitson poses with Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA, left, and flight engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency prior to the pair's spacewalk on March 24, 2017.

Kimbrough departed the space station on April 10, 2017, and Whitson took on the lead role, making her the first woman to command two space station missions. 


Spacewalk #8

Astronaut Peggy Whitson works outside the ISS during her record-breaking eighth spacewalk, the most for a woman, on March 30, 2017.

By the time she returns to Earth in September, Whitson will have logged 666 days in orbit over three flights. The world record — 879 days — is held by Russian Gennady Padalka.

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