Peggy Whitson, NASA's crew back after 288 days

by Dominic Parks September 3, 2017, 16:14
Peggy Whitson, NASA's crew back after 288 days

NASA all-time space champ Peggy Whitson is back on Earth after a record-breaking flight.

The Soyuz MS-04 manned spacecraft with three crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) has undocked from the ISS, the Mission Control Center said Sunday.

Whitson has completed a total of 665 days in space throughout her career. Along with his crewmates Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency), the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members.

This mission also made Whitson the oldest woman to fly in space (age 57) and the most experienced woman spacewalker (with 10 orbital outings). He also praised Whitson for her efforts, calling her the "American space ninja".

Whitson, who grew up on a farm in Iowa, said she was inspired by the US Apollo program that landed men on the moon, but it was not until later, when the first women become astronauts, that she set her sights on joining them.

Whitson says she's craving pizza - and flush toilets.

As TechCrunch noted, Whitson was scheduled to return in June but "happily accepted" an invitation to stay on the ISS longer when Russian space agency Roscosmos canceled a joint mission to the station earlier in 2017.

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"In addition to that, we're doing a lot of debriefs talking to the ground teams about procedures that worked really well, procedures that we need to try to improve, tools or hardware that we had issues with - just ideas for how to operationally improve the efficiencies up here so that we can get even more done", she said.

"Once the switch is thrown to go home, time seems to move a lot slower", she wrote. This trip - her third - lasted 288 days. "Until the end of my days, my eyes will search the horizon to see that curve".

This flight alone lasted 288 days, much longer than intended.

Russians still hold claim to the world's space endurance and spacewalking records.

When U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson returns to Earth on Saturday from the International Space Station, she will have spent more time in space than any other American.

Expedition 51/52 crewmembers Fischer and Yurchikhin arrived at the ISS in April with an empty seat in their Soyuz. She's been an astronaut since 1996 and is married to a fellow biochemist, Clarence Sams, who works at the space center.

Peggy Whitson floats through a tangle of cables aboard the International Space Station.

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