NASA’s astronaut Peggy Whitson returned home safely after completing her record breaking space mission on Sunday. After spending 288 days at the International Space Station (ISS), Peggy along with fellow NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin returned safely to Earth. The Soyuz MS-04 capsule carrying the three space travelers touched down safely in Kazakhstan on the early hours of September 2.
During her stay aboard the International Space Station, Peggy Whitson set the new world record for the most cumulative time spent in space by an American. Peggy shattered the previous record by staying in Earth’s orbit for 655 days. On the other hand, her crewmates, Jack Fischer and Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin both spent 136 days at ISS. The exact time of landing was noted to be 9:21 p.m. EDT (0121 Sept. 3 GMT), on what was called a bright Sunday morning.
Fischer and Yurchikhin reached ISS in April with an empty seat in their Soyuz spacecraft. The two were here for expedition 51/52 while Peggy was already completing her mission. The empty seat on Soyuz was occupied by Peggy on returning home. The Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft left for Earth at 5:58 p.m. EDT (1758 GMT), starting a highly crucial 3-hour and 24-minute journey back to Earth. The spacecraft entered Earth’s atmosphere at speed of over 500 mph (800 km/h). The spacecraft safely landed near the rural town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
The crew will be of the spacecraft were taken to their respective space control rooms. Peggy and Fischer flew to Houston while Yurchikhin headed to Moscow. After returning to Houston Peggy and Fischer will spend 45 days in physical rehab undergoing medical tests and research. With 665 days, Peggy Whitson is now eight on the list of most time spent in space. However, Peggy is now the record holder of NASA’s all-time spaceflight duration overtaking astronaut Jeff Williams’ record of 534 days. Interestingly Whitson’s 288-day aboard the station was also the longest single spaceflight by a woman of any nationality.