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Astronaut Peggy Whitson Has Now Spent More Time in Space Than Any Other American

April 24, 2017, 9:42 AM UTC

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson added another feat to her already record-breaking career on Monday when she became the U.S. astronaut with the most cumulative time in space. She broke the record by logging 534 days, two hours, and 49 minutes (and counting) away from Earth, according to NASA.

Whitson is currently on her third long-duration stay at the International Space Station. She launched last November and is expected to finish her mission in September.

When she returns to Earth, she will have spent more than 650 days in space throughout her groundbreaking career. In 2008, Whitson became the first woman to command the space station, and on April 9 became the first woman to command it twice. In March, she claimed the record for most spacewalks by a woman. And at 57, Whitson is the oldest female astronaut.

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Whitson started working for NASA in the 1980s. With a doctorate in biochemistry, she held several research-related jobs before being named project scientist of the Shuttle-Mir Program in 1992. She also worked as deputy division chief of the medical sciences division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and as co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group before being selected as an astronaut in 1996.

Her first trip to the International Space Station occurred in 2002 when space shuttle Endeavour delivered her and five crewmates for a 184-day mission. On that first trip, she took part in 21 science investigations and became the first NASA science officer. In 2008, Whitson returned to the ISS as commander of Expedition 16, when she logged another 192 days in space and performed her first five spacewalks.

On her current stay at the ISS, Whitson has completed another three spacewalks, bringing her total time spent outside the space station to more than 53 hours.

NASA says President Donald Trump and First Daughter Ivanka Trump will call the ISS from the Oval Office on Monday morning to congratulate Whitson on her record-breaking feat.