Astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks US spaceflight record

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks US spaceflight record

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Peggy Whitson on Monday set a new US record for most cumulative days spent in space, surpassing cosmonaut Jeff Williams’ record of 534 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

With the recent extension of her stay at the ISS, the Expedition 51 commander has five months to rack up another record, NASA said.

In 2008, Whitson became the first woman to command the space station, and on April 9 this year became the first woman to command it twice. In March, she seized the record for most spacewalks spanning over 53 hours by a female, breaking Indian-American Sunita Williams’ record of seven spacewalks totalling 50 hours and 40 minutes.

Now, after launching on November 17 last year with 377 days in space already under her belt, she has surpassed astronaut Jeff Williams’ previous US record of 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes of cumulative time in space.

This is Whitson’s third long-duration stay onboard the space station, and in March her mission was extended into September, increasing the amount of valuable astronaut time available for experiments on board the station. When she returns to Earth, she will have spent more than 650 days in space, and decades supporting spaceflight from the ground, NASA said.