NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson set yet another historical record this week; now surpassing the most time ever spent in space by an American.
At 1:27 a.m. EDT on Monday, Whitson surpassed the previous record held by astronaut Jeffrey Williams at 534 days, 2 hours, 49 minutes and counting total time in orbit above the planet Earth.
Whitson is no stranger to the title of record holder. A seasoned astronaut and doctor of biochemistry, Whitson made headlines just weeks ago when she set a different type of space-based record: participating in more spacewalks than any other woman in history. She was also the first female to command the International Space Station, a feat she recently achieved for a second time as recently as April 9th, making her not only the first woman to do so, but also the first woman to do so twice.
Whitson, along with rookie astronaut Air Force Colonel Jack Fischer, received a call from President Trump and his daughter Ivanka soon after she attained her most recent historical record.
“Peggy, Jack, and Kate, I know that America’s students are thrilled to hear from you. But first, I want to say that this is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight.” The President said via video call. “Today, Commander Whitson, you have broken the record for the most total time spent in space by an American astronaut — 534 days and counting. That’s an incredible record to break. And on behalf of our nation and, frankly, on behalf of the world, I’d like to congratulate you. That is really something.”
He then asked the astronaut what it felt like to break “such a big and important record?”