Record-breaker retires as astronaut


Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.

NASA’s record-breaking astronaut, Peggy Whitson, retired Friday less than a year after returning from her last and longest spaceflight.

She’s spent more time off the planet than any other American: 665 days over three space station missions. She’s also the world’s most experienced female spacewalker, with 10 under her spacesuit belt.

Whitson was the first woman to command the International Space Station, holding the position twice, and the oldest woman ever to fly in space. She was also the only woman to have served as chief of NASA’s male-dominated astronaut corps.

Fellow astronauts called her a “space ninja.”

“It’s been the greatest honor to live out my lifelong dream of being a @NASA Astronaut,” Whitson said via Twitter, thanking “all who have supported me along the way.”

“As I reminisce on my many treasured memories, it’s safe to say my journey at NASA has been out of this world!”

The 58-year-old biochemist, who grew up on an Iowa hog farm, joined NASA as a researcher in 1986 and became an astronaut in 1996. Her last spaceflight, spanning 2016 and 2017, lasted close to 10 months.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called Whitson an inspiration, citing her determination and dedication to science, exploration and discovery.

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