Have you ever heard of Peggy Whitson? She’s certainly someone we should all know about. A NASA astronaut, Whitson broke a record last month by spending more than 535 days in space! That gives her the honor of being the U.S. astronaut with the record for the most cumulative time spent in space.
Whitson is currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and will be staying there until September. This is her third time aboard the ISS. By the time she returns to Earth, she’ll have more than 650 days LOGGED in space!
Whitson is no stranger to breaking records. In 2008, she became the first woman to command the space station. Earlier this year, Whitson earned the record for the most spacewalks by a woman!
Born in 1960, Whitson has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology/chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College and a Doctor of Philosophy in biochemistry from Rice University.
NASA astronauts have a long history of degrees in science and engineering. The first group of astronauts were chosen in 1959 from a group of 500 candidates. All seven astronauts had flight experience and engineering training as well as military experience. NASA astronauts have been selected for different reasons over the years and have degrees ranging from education and oceanography to mathematics and medicine. Astronauts have been to the moon, walked in space, and spent years continuously operating the ISS.
The ISS is an artificial satellite that orbits Earth more than 15 times per day. The first part of the space station launched into orbit in 1998. It is now large enough that it can sometimes be seen with the naked eye from Earth. It allows scientists to conduct experiments in biology, physics, meteorology and more. Astronauts from over 17 countries have visited the ISS over the years!