Peggy Whitson Broke NASA Record for Most Time Spent in Space | The Mary Sue
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Peggy Whitson Breaks the Record for Most Time Spent in Space by an American

We're all kind of sick and tired of this planet... take us with you?


Astronaut Peggy Whitson has officially spent more time in outer space than any other American. Her total time spent off-Earth is about 534 days, a record previously set by astronaut Jeff Williams. By the time she heads back planetside in September, she will have spent over 650 days in space.

Whitson has previously commanded the ISS twice, and her feat is nothing short of heroic. For context, Gennady Padalka has spent over 879 days in space over five missions. In addition to leading the board for Americans in space, Whitson also holds the record for longest time spent in space by a woman. Second to her is Sunita Williams, who boasts 321 days. It’s also worth noting that Whitson is also the oldest woman in space, as she was 56 when she left for her mission aboard the ISS last November.

That being said, it’s kind of… off (Odd? Weird?) that Whitson received a call from Trump to congratulate her on her achievement. It’s true that the Trump administration is pushing for a Mars mission, but they do so while also attacking science and fact at every other conceivable angle. Whatever, it’s not like Trump is any stranger to glad handing people.

During his call with Whitson, he spoke about the hopeful Mars mission, asking her when she thinks they’ll make it up there. She answered by repeating an earlier answer she gave, saying it might be sometime in the 2030s. Trump replied, “Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term. So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, okay?” Cue eyeroll.

The conversation then turned to Trump asking about what they’re learning by being up in space. Whitson spoke about the scarcity of resources and how that’ll play into a Mars mission. She explained how they’re filtering and cleaning their urine to make it drinkable (and thus, to an extent, a renewable resource). Trump said, “Well, that’s good. I’m glad to hear that. Better you than me.”

Okay. Right. Uh-huh. (What?)

It’s pretty great to know that two American women are leading the charge for women in time spent out beyond our atmosphere.

(via NPR, featured image: Flickr/NASA Johnson)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.