In the early-morning hours on Sunday, astronaut Peggy Whitson, tucked inside a Soyuz capsule, returned to earth on the plains of Kazakhstan along with her colleague Jack Fischer and a Russian cosmonaut. Before re-entering, Whitson had spent 288 days aboard the International Space Station, good for the longest amount of time any female astronaut has ever spent in orbit for a single space flight. Her total time in space, 665 days, is now the most cumulative time spent in space by any astronaut — male or female. That’s nearly two years! Frankly, with what’s been happening lately on planet earth, who can blame Whitson for wanted to escape?! But we digress … As you can see in the chart below, Whitson has a monumental lead over five of her male colleagues for the most cumulative days spent in outer space
Whitson has made these accomplishments, and litany of others nicely enumerated by NASA here, at the age of 57. But that’s kind of old hat for the intrepid astronaut. She became the oldest woman astronaut in space at the age of 56 last November. Through it all, she doesn’t seem the least bit jaded by the awesomeness of what she gets to do for a living. A few weeks before returning to earth, she shared a photo on Twitter of herself taking in a magical sunset.
Below, watch some NASA footage of the moment Whitson’s capsule touches down on earth. It’s actually a rather dramatic re-entry to the planet — fitting of the dramatic inspiration Whitson has become.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.