NASA's record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson to extend her space mission by three months
NASA : NASA announced, the world’s most experienced and oldest spacewomen Peggy Whitson will be getting three extra months in International Space Station. Her journey is to be extended till September. Whitson, a biochemist who grew up on a farm in Iowa, became an astronaut in 1996. She served as NASA's chief astronaut from 2009 to 2012, the only woman to ever hold the job.
The 57year old astronaut Peggy arrived NASA in November and was supposed to return to Earth in June. The decision came as an agreement between the NASA and Russian Space Agency that she’ll stay for another three months. She will be taking advantage of an empty seat on a Soyuz capsule in the fall.
This is Peggy’s third mission and will now last for around 10 months. Scientists are eager to monitor any changes in her body. To add in their knowledge earlier gained from retired astronaut Scott Kelly’s one year flight.
Pelly took the flight in November with two other men - France's Thomas Pesquet and Russia's Oleg Novitskiy, which will be returning in June.
She has already spent the longest time in space than any other women, including all her missions. Just last week only, she set a record for the most spacewalks by women, with eight. And this weekend she’ll take over as a space station commander, her second time at the job. Next, on 24th April, she will set a new U.S. record for the most time spend in space.
Whitson welcomed Wednesday's news.
"I love being up here," she said in a statement. "Living and working aboard the space station is where I feel like I make the greatest contribution, so I am constantly trying to squeeze every drop out of my time here. Having three more months to squeeze is just what I would wish for."
NASA's space station program director, Kirk Shireman, said Whitson's skill and experience make her "an incredible asset" up there, and her extra time will be put to good use.
There will be a return seat for Whitson in September because the Soyuz due to launch later this month will carry up one American and one Russian, one person fewer than usual. Russia is temporarily cutting back to two station residents. With Whitson's extended stay, the orbiting outpost will continue to have a full crew of six.