Record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson is returning from ISS

Her Houston home, where she lives with her husband Clarence Sams, who works at the Johnson Space Center, has withstood the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Sep 05, 2017
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has broken numerous records since starting her career in 1996, is coming home from the International Space Station (ISS) Saturday night September 2 after having spent nine-and-a-half straight months in space.

This most recent mission, her third, began in November 2016. When an extra seat became available on the Soyuz spacecraft that transports astronauts to the ISS, NASA extended her stay by three months.

Over her three missions, Whitson has spent a total of 665 days, or one-and-a-half years, in space, the longest for a female astronaut.

A biochemist, Whitson conducted 10 space walks, more than any other woman astronaut, served as captain of the space station twice, and at age 57, is the oldest woman in space.

She praised the exercise equipment on the ISS for keeping up the strength of her bones and muscles, and said she could stay in orbit even longer.

During her time on board the ISS, Whitson grew vegetables as part of a scientific experiment.

Her Houston home, where she lives with her husband Clarence Sams, who works at the Johnson Space Center, has withstood the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey.

The Space Center itself is closed to all but personnel deemed essential. The latter includes ISS Mission Control staff.

"Any trepidations I might have about returning in the aftermath of a hurricane are entirely eclipsed by all those folks keeping our mission going," she emphasized.

Because of the crisis situation in Houston, Whitson will not go directly home after her Soyuz capsule lands in Kazakhstan. Instead, she will make a brief stop in Germany before returning.

When asked via email what she will miss most about life in space, she cited floating and moving freely in zero gravity and viewing "the enchantingly peaceful limb of our Earth" from orbit.

"Until the end of my days, my eyes will search the horizon to see that curve."

 

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