Astronaut Peggy Whitson is no stranger to breaking records. She's already been celebrated as as the first female chief of the astronaut office, the first woman to command the space station (twice!), and the first NASA science officer. Plus, she's completed the most space walks of any female astronaut.
At 1:27 a.m. today, Whitson claimed another major record. She has been in space for 534 days and counting, which gives her the most cumulative time spent in space of any NASA astronaut.
President Donald Trump called Whitson from the White House to offer his congratulations on the accomplishment. He was joined by Ivanka Trump and Kate Rubins, another legendary NASA astronaut (and the first person to sequence DNA in space).
President Trump eliminated funding for NASA's education program and cut funding to its earth science division — yet he marked $3.7 billion for human exploration and a mission to Mars. Whitson took the opportunity to reflect on Trump's proposed NASA budget, saying, "It's a very exciting time to be at NASA and we're excited about the missions to Mars in the 2030s."
During the call, Trump also expressed admiration for the work Whitson and other astronauts are doing, and made a subtle dig at some of his colleagues in Washington. "I've been dealing with politicians so much — I'm much more impressed by these people," Trump said, referring to the astronauts.
On her current mission, Whitson and her NASA coworkers are attempting to understand how microgravity affects the human body over time and what kinds of tech will be needed for missions to Mars.
Seems like it's only a matter of time before Whitson breaks another record.