NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is set to become the oldest woman to enter space at the age of 56 when she rockets off today. Whitson will celebrate her 57th birthday in February at the International Space Station.

Whitson will top the oldest women’s list while in the men’s category John Glenn is still considered oldest as he took a space shuttle flight at the age of 77. With this decision of flying off the planet, Whitson has beaten Barbara Morgan who went into space at the age of 55 in year 2007.

Whitson will be travelling with two younger men by her side and she will be launched from Kazakhstan on a Soyuz rocket. The two young men are a Russian cosmonaut, 45-year-old Oleg Novitskiy and a French newcomer to space, 38-year-old Thomas Pesquet. This is the third time Whitson, an Iowa-borna biochemist, will be launching off for the space station and the second time as a commander.

“I love working at NASA, but the part that has been the most satisfying on a day-to-day basis, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, has been working on board the space station,” Whitson said, as reported by Dailymail.

peggy whitson
Peggy Whitson in the center (Pic credit- The Financial Express)

Whitson was also the first woman to rocket off as a commander of the space station in 2007, nine years since its inception. She was also the first and the only woman to head NASA’s male-dominated astronaut corps and spend as much time in space as her. She has spent 377 days in space so far and performed several spacewalks.

She is being very calm and normal abour her space flight as she was noted saying that it gets easier with age as you already know what to expect and how to prioritize.

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Whitson’s husband, Clarence Sams, also works for NASA.

Her aim with this space flight of six months is to stay in the outer world for more than 534 days, a US record set by 58-year-old astronaut Jeffrey Williams in September this year.

Feature picture credit- Orlando Estinel