NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has announced her retirement from the US space agency. The 58-year-old astronaut has spent a record-breaking 665 days in space over three space station missions, more than any other female astronaut. She holds the record for most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut at 665 days.
Whitson is the world’s most experienced female spacewalker with 10 spacewalks totaling 60 hours and 21 minutes under her spacesuit belt. She also holds the record for the longest space flight any woman astronaut has ever taken of 289 days.
Born in the year 1960 in Iowa, the US female astronaut first came to NASA in 1986 as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston. She served as the project scientist for the Shuttle-Mir Program and co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group before getting selected to the astronaut corps in 1996.
Whitson first traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2002. She took part in 21 science investigations and became NASA’s first space station science officer. She returned to the ISS again in 2008 and became the first female commander of the space station.
She was also appointed as chief of the astronaut corps from 2009 to 2012, becoming both the first woman to hold the position and the first non-military astronaut corps chief.
During her most recent mission that spanned Expeditions 50, 51 and 52 from November 2016 to September 2017, Whitson became the first woman to command the space station twice. Her last spaceflight lasted for around 10 months. She was 57 years old when she returned from her last trip on the ISS.
“It’s been the greatest honor to live out my lifelong dream of being a @NASA Astronaut,” Whitson wrote on Twitter, thanking “all who have supported me along the way.”
“As I reminisce on my many treasured memories, it’s safe to say my journey at NASA has been out of this world!”