Veteran NASA spacewoman getting 3 extra months in orbit

"Living and working aboard the space station is where I feel like I make the greatest contribution, so I am constantly trying to squeeze every drop out of my time here". This is Whitson's third mission and will now last close to 10 months.

Several firsts were achieved for AMF over the past year: the first STEM print for the Future Engineers program sponsored by NASA; the first print for NASA was an adaptor part for an Oxygen Generating System (OGS) used aboard the ISS during monthly oxygen level testing; the first commercial print was a microgravity wrench for Lowe's; the first print for the U.S. Navy, a hydroclip part used on radio wiring; and the first medical print with the fabrication of a finger splint design for a medical researcher.

Astronaut Peggy Whitson is no stranger to breaking NASA records, and the Iowa native plans to add a few more to her list before returning to Earth in the fall. She will now return to Earth in September with NASA's Jack Fischer and Roscosmos' Fyodor Yurchikhin. She became the first woman to command the space station in 2008, and come Sunday, will become the first woman to command it twice.

Whitson is the world's oldest and most experienced spacewoman and is now in the midst of her third stint at the International Space Station (ISS). Former astronaut Scott Kelly holds the USA record for the longest single flight at 340 days.

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I'd describe our prints past year as trailblazers, since they were all made in orbit for the first time and we were exploring how best to utilize AMF.

Speaking about having her mission extended, Whitson said, "This is great news". Another NASA astronaut Sunita Williams had the previous record with a cumulative 50 hours and 40 minutes spacewalk time.

"The question of Peggy Whitson's stay at the ISS for another 3.5 months is nearly solved, only some technical matters and formalities remain", Komarov said on the sidelines of the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Now she has a chance to grab another two - for female astronaut with longest single flight and for longest cumulated time in space among all NASA astronauts.

Between June 2, when Whitson's two Soyuz MS-03 crewmates land, and the arrival of Ryazanskiy's crew, the station will be staffed by one Russian, Yurchikhin, and two Americans, Whitson and Fischer. The volume of an experiment done on board by six astronauts will also increase. Now by the end of her mission, Whitson will be supremely in the lead.

  • Delia Davidson