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Question Your World: Which American Has Been in Space the Longest?

There are many important names in the world of space exploration. Aldrin, Armstrong, and Gagarin are pillars in that world, but new achievements are being reached all the time. Now more than ever, women are getting a chance to break these records and doing some pretty remarkable things for space exploration. Which American has been in space the longest? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginiato find out.

To break records one must usually rise to the greatest heights in their industry. And for Peggy Whitson of Mount Ayr, Indiana those heights are 220 miles above the Earth!

While the rest of us were celebrating a labor day weekend, Peggy Whitson was making her way back to the United States after breaking a few remarkable records in space. Keep in mind that there have been a lot of records in the past, but we're starting to see our female astronauts breaking new boundaries and furthering space exploration now too. This is a great step forward for the entire space research community and something that can inspire future generations of cosmos-minded thinkers.

So, what records does Peggy Whitson now have under her astro-belt? Well, there are a lot of broken records here actually. For starters, Whitson now holds the title of the most time cumulatively spent in space by any US Astronaut, clocking in at a whopping 665 days. This consists of multiple trips, but when added up her numbers surpass those of any other American astronauts. She’s also the first female astronaut to command the ISS twice. For her most recent mission Whitson also became the first female astronauts to spend the most consecutive time in space, lasting 288 days! This would include being a part of expeditions 50, 51, and 52!

But wait, there’s more! Peggy Whitson also now holds the record for most spacewalks for any female astronaut, with 60 hours and 21 minutes spent out in the void of space. This also ranks her in third for most spacewalks by any space walkers ever.

With all these accomplishments, it’s no wonder that Whitson even got a congratulatory phone call from the president to praising her for her huge accomplishment. Whitson has done several interviews with press where she expresses her thoughts that she feels like humans, especially females, need to continue to break records because it’ll represent humanity moving forward in space exploration. When asked what she was looking forward to the most about being back on Earth, she replied with flush toilets and pizzas…hey it’s the little things that matter most folks!

Whitson now joins such greats as Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, Grace Hopper, Sally Ride, and many others whom have gone on to inspire women in science and to raise the bar on what scientific accomplishment can be. At 57, Peggy and her slew of broken records will no doubt be an inspiration for generations to come!