Trump calls astronaut Peggy Whitson, as she clinches U.S. record for most time in space
As of today, astronaut Peggy Whitson has spent more time in space than any other American.
Whitson has clocked in 534 days over three expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS). Whitson, who started her latest space mission last November, became ISS commander for a second time on April 9. She is the first woman to serve two stints in the position.
In March, Whitson also nabbed the record for most spacewalks. By the time she returns to Earth, she will have spent more than 650 cumulative days in space.
President Trump spoke Monday morning with Whitson via video, where he congratulated her on the record-breaking achievement and mentioned his signing of the NASA authorization bill, as well as his efforts to increase military funding.
“This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight,” Trump said. “On behalf of our nation and frankly on behalf of the world, I’d like to congratulate you. That’s really something.”
Whitman was joined on the call by fellow NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, who arrived at the ISS early Thursday morning aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.
“It’s an honor for me to be representing all the folks back at NASA who make this spaceflight possible, and who make me setting this spaceflight record feasible,” Whitson said.
While Whitson has broken the American record, the world record for cumulative time in space is still held by cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who spent 879 days in space over his career. Scott Kelly holds the American record for most time passed during a single spaceflight. He spent 340 days on the ISS in 2015 and 2016.
Whitman and Fischer ended the call with a zero-gravity front flip.