NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson returned to Earth late Saturday, after a record breaking space mission. Whitson has broken the 534 days US record for cumulative time in space back in April.
Whitson’s 665 days off the planet broke record with 288 days on this mission alone exceeding that of any other American and any other woman worldwide.
She checked out of the International Space Station just hours earlier, along with another American and a Russian. Their Soyuz capsule landed in Kazakhstan shortly after sunrise Sunday — Saturday night back in the U.S.
Whitson was the last one carried from the Soyuz. She immediately received a pair of sunglasses to put on, as she rested in a chair on the barren, wind-swept Kazak steppes. Medical personnel took her pulse, standard practice. She then received a bouquet of flowers with the greeting, “Welcome back, Peggy.”
Besides duration, Whitson set multiple other records while in orbit: world’s oldest spacewoman, at age 57, and most experienced female spacewalker, with 10. She also became the first woman to command the space station twice following her launch last November.