Iowan Sets U.S. Space Record Today

Apr 24, 2017

Astronaut and Iowa native Peggy Whitson sets a U.S. record in orbit today.  She is spending her 535th cumulative day in space, and that breaks the record of 534 days that had been held by Jeff Williams.  Whitson lifted off from Kazakhstan November 17th, 2016, on what is her third trip aboard the station. 

In an interview with Texas schoolchildren in February, Whitson was asked what it’s like to be flying through space at 17-thousand miles an hour.

“I think about it in terms of the fact that every 90-minutes, we’re going around the earth,” she answered via video link.  “Every 45-minutes, we see either a sunrise or a sunset.  And that gives you more of a sense of speed than just looking out the window.”

Whitson grew up in Mt. Ayr and, in a NASA online video, said that she sold chickens to help pay for her commercial pilot license training.

Whitson is commanding the International Space Station for the second time.  A NASA news release says in 2008, she became the first woman to command the station.

Whitson has been with NASA since 1989, and took her first space flight in 2002.

In her interview from the space station with the schoolchildren in Texas, Whitson said she would like spend the rest of her career at NASA.

“I really haven’t ever wanted to do anything else,” she told the students.  “I imagine I will always work in the space industry.  I really enjoy NASA, what NASA stands for, exploration and space flight.  So yeah, I think I will.”

President Trump is scheduled to call Whitson this morning to congratulate her on the record.  She is scheduled to return to earth in September.