Astronaut breaks record for most time in space by American

Thursday, 27 Apr, 2017

President Donald Trump set that time frame today, nearly certainly in jest, during a congratulatory video call to the International Space Station and its record-setting commander, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson. Whitson isn't expected to return to Earth until September.

The president was joined for the 20-minute call by First Daughter Ivanka Trump and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins. Whitson already was the world's most experienced spacewoman and female spacewalker and, at age 57, the oldest woman ever in space.

NASA's current schedule calls for the first test flight of the heavy-lift rocket it has designated for Mars journeys, the Space Launch System, to lift off in 2018 - but that schedule is virtually certain to slip to 2019 or 2020.

She also holds the record for most spacewalks by a female astronaut. Whitson took her eighth spacewalk in March. That's an incredible record to break.

Her career total of 535 days in space, compiled over three trips to the space station, breaks an American record previously held by Jeff Williams.

Whitson told Trump that NASA is researching how microgravity is affecting the human body, operations of space shuttles during long-duration missions, and the technological advancements for such a mission.

The president spoke Monday with Peggy Whitson, commander of the International Space Station, and fellow astronaut Jack Fischer.

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It wasn't clear whether Trump was joking about the new, highly ambitious target.

"Well, we want to try and do it during my first term, or at worst during my second term", Trump responded.

"We'll do our best", Whitson replied.

Other things that became a topic of conversation between the astronauts and Trump were the experiments that were being carried out in space and what they were learning, to the President asking them what a typical day aboard the ISS looked like and Fischer referring to Peggy Whitson as a "space ninja".

History was made this morning at the International Space Station.

"I've been dealing with politicians so much", Trump said.

As of today, astronaut Peggy Whitson has spent more time in space than any other American.