NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson becomes first woman to command ISS twice

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson becomes first woman to command ISS twice
Source: AP
Source: AP

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson achieved a new milestone at the International Space Station on Sunday, when she became the first woman to command the ISS twice.

Whitson is replacing astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough, who will depart the space station Monday.

"Up here we don't wear shoes, but Shane is leaving me some pretty big socks to fill," Whitson said during a live broadcast as she assumed her new position. 

Whitson became the first female space-station commander in 2008. In the years since, astronaut Sunita Williams has been the only other woman to command the ISS.

Sunday's milestone is the latest in a string of records broken by Whitson. In addition to her commanding achievements, Whitson holds the record for cumulative spacewalking time of any female astronaut. She also earned the distinction of being the oldest woman to ever go to space when she arrived at the ISS in November at the age of 56.

As if that weren't enough, Whitson is just a couple weeks away from yet another feat. On April 24, she will pass astronaut Jeff Williams to break the record for cumulative days in space by a U.S. astronaut, currently set at 534 days. NASA announced on Wednesday that Whitson's time in space was extended an additional three months through September, which will make it even harder for another astronaut to come close to her record-breaking stay.

"I love being up here," Whitson said in a statement about her extension. "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."

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Alison Durkee

Alison is a New York-based news writer at Mic. You can get in touch with her at adurkee@mic.com.

MORE FROM

20 attorneys general pen letter to Betsy DeVos urging her to keep campus sexual assault protections

The attorneys general reminded DeVos that scrapping Title IX guidance will have a chilling effect on sexual assault and rape reporting rates.

New study suggests high workloads and aging doctor population means looming OB-GYN shortage

Obstetricians and gynecologists are overworked at nearing retirement age — without a younger contingent to replace them.

Why pro-life doctors want the First Amendment to protect their right to lie to patients

Crisis pregnancy centers believe they should be exempt from a law saying they should inform patients about all their medical options, including abortions.

‘Brown Girls’ wants to tell women of color’s stories in all their messy, complicated glory

Creators Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey want to let their characters break free of the neat identity categories people are wont to place them in.

One woman living in R Kelly’s alleged “sex cult” says everything is fine. That doesn’t mean it is.

Jocelyn Savage says she's "happy" and "totally fine" in her arrangement with R. Kelly. Experts say that's common behavior among abuse survivors.

Black women warned us about R Kelly's behavior for years. Was nobody listening?

Black women and girls have been telling people for years about the singer's behavior. And yet too few people have deigned to listen.

20 attorneys general pen letter to Betsy DeVos urging her to keep campus sexual assault protections

The attorneys general reminded DeVos that scrapping Title IX guidance will have a chilling effect on sexual assault and rape reporting rates.

New study suggests high workloads and aging doctor population means looming OB-GYN shortage

Obstetricians and gynecologists are overworked at nearing retirement age — without a younger contingent to replace them.

Why pro-life doctors want the First Amendment to protect their right to lie to patients

Crisis pregnancy centers believe they should be exempt from a law saying they should inform patients about all their medical options, including abortions.

‘Brown Girls’ wants to tell women of color’s stories in all their messy, complicated glory

Creators Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey want to let their characters break free of the neat identity categories people are wont to place them in.

One woman living in R Kelly’s alleged “sex cult” says everything is fine. That doesn’t mean it is.

Jocelyn Savage says she's "happy" and "totally fine" in her arrangement with R. Kelly. Experts say that's common behavior among abuse survivors.

Black women warned us about R Kelly's behavior for years. Was nobody listening?

Black women and girls have been telling people for years about the singer's behavior. And yet too few people have deigned to listen.