Record breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson is set to return to earth on Saturday, after more than nine months in orbit as the commander of the International Space Station.

Prior to this long duration mission, Whitson had already accumulated more than a year in space on two prior ISS missions, which is a record in itself, but just a few months ago Whitson made history yet again, accruing more time spacewalking outside the safety of the International Space Station than any other American in history.  Whitson is also not only the first female commander of the International Space Station, she’s the first women to earn that title twice.

Whitson was scheduled to participate in a news conference on Friday, but complications arose as NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston found itself unmanned and crippled by flood waters resulting from Hurricane Harvey.  Nonetheless, Whitson made herself available to questions via e-mail for as long as she was able.

According to Whitson, this most recent stint on the ISS, which was extended by NASA to keep her in the role of commander throughout another set of missions which included one emergency space walk to repair the ISS, didn’t feel any longer than her two previous six month stays, right up until it was almost time to go home; a sentiment often echoed by service members as they prepare to return from deployment.

Peggy Whitson works outside the International Space Station during her record-breaking eighth spacewalk.

“I would say the slowest time has been the last week or so. I think it has to do with switching in your mind where you want/need to be. Once the switch is thrown to go home, time seems to move a lot slower.” She explained.

Whitson, by most accounts a hero herself, devoted a good deal of her responses to the incredible efforts put forth by those back on earth, where her home community in Texas has been ravaged by high winds and flooding brought about by the hurricane.

Our home is fine, but so many friends and co-workers have been impacted. For example, in order to keep mission control running, the team (three shifts of a skeleton support crew) were sleeping on cots in the backup mission control rooms. Their sacrifices for the station and keeping things running up here are amazing.” Whitson said of the personnel tasked with remaining behind after Mission Control was evacuated.

“And then there were so many others who ‘called in’ to support various meetings and decisions that had to be made to keep the program running, all the while worrying about the sheetrock that needed to be torn out of their flooded house. All this was done because of the caliber of folks we are lucky enough to have working at NASA.” She went on.  “Any trepidations I might have about returning in the aftermath of a hurricane are entirely eclipsed by the all those folks keeping our mission going and physically putting themselves out there to help folks who were less fortunate than us.”