Astronaut Peggy Whitson Holds Record for Most Days in Space

Trump called astronaut Peggy Whitson to congratulate her on setting a new American record for cumulative time spent in space.

"That's an incredible record to break", Trump said via a video link from the Oval Office.

Whitson already was the world's most experienced spacewoman and female spacewalker and, at 57, the oldest woman in space.

"Today, Commander Whitson, you have broken the record for the most total time spent in space by an American astronaut, 534 days and counting", Trump said. She made her first trip into orbit in 2002, after two decades of work with the space agency on the ground.

"It's really not as bad as it sounds", she assured the President.

Whitson, who said she was inspired to become an astronaut by NASA's Apollo program, also joined the president in discussing the goal of sending astronauts to Mars.

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At 12:00AM AEST yesterday, President Trump called the ISS to congratulate Whitson on her achievement.

Mr Trump at one point mentioned that he'd like to see humans make it to Mars before the end of his first term in office, an unlikely scenario since plans for manned space flight to Mars tend to schedule such a flight in the 2030s.

"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, OK?"

Fellow ISS astronaut Jack Fischer participated in the call alongside Whitson.

Whitson, who holds a doctorate in biochemistry, grew up on a farm and enjoys gardening.

Record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson added yet another feather to her cap on Monday by becoming the first USA astronaut with the most cumulative time in space. The astronauts on call from the ISS explained what is being done to make the Mars mission possible and how new equipment is being built for the same. Her current mission launched in November, and though it originally was scheduled to return home in June, is now scheduled to last until September.

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