American biochemist and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the US record for most cumulative time spent in space for any astronaut — male or female — is retiring from the agency.

“Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to NASA and America. We owe her a great debt for her service and she will be missed. We thank her for her service to our agency and country.”

The legendary astronaut Whitson spent 655 days in space, the second-most amount holder being Jeff Williams, who has spent 534 days in space

Of the many firsts added to her cap, Whitson, last November, also became the oldest woman astronaut in space at the age of 56. She is also the only female astronaut to have commanded the International Space Station twice. Whiston has set the record for the most cumulative spacewalking time — 53 hours and 22 minutes.

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Whitson, a native of Beaconsfield, Iowa, first joined NASA in 1986 as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Among many scientific roles she served during her tenure at NASA, the most notable ones were when she included in the Shuttle-Mir Program and co-chaired the US-Russian Mission Science Working Group, before her selection to the astronaut corps in 1996.

“It has been the utmost honor to have Peggy Whitson represent our entire NASA Flight Operations team,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson. “She set the highest standards for human spaceflight operations, as well as being an outstanding role model for women and men in America and across the globe. Godspeed, Peg.”

Read Also: Peggy Whitson harvests Chinese Cabbage in Space

This badass woman’s most recent mission was spanning Expeditions 50, 51 and 52 from November 2016 to September 2017. Whitson became the first woman to command the space station twice (Expedition 51). She has reportedly made history by breaking the record for the most spacewalks by a woman — a record was previously held by Sunita L. Williams who had performed seven spacewalks by logging 50 hours and 40 minutes. Whitson has been in orbit since November 2016 for her Expedition 50/51. This is her third space station stint.

Pat Forrester, current chief of the Astronaut Office, said, “Along with her record setting career, she leaves behind a legacy of her passion for space.”

She was also bestowed the honour of leading the astronaut corps from 2009 to 2012 as a chief, becoming both the first woman to hold the position and the first non-military astronaut corps chief.

Also Read: 56 year Old Peggy Whitson To Be Oldest Woman In Space

Feature Image Credit- The Financial Express

Read More Stories By Ria Das

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