Astronaut Peggy Whitson Returns After Nine and a Half Months in Space

Peggy Whitson is helped out of the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft in Kazakhstan, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. Image via the AP.
Peggy Whitson is helped out of the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft in Kazakhstan, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. Image via the AP.

Peggy Whitson, who touched down on Saturday night in Kazakhstan at 9:21pm EST, departed Earth just a few days after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. In the interim, she’s been merrily tweeting down about her exercise regimen, space fashions, space cooking, and space toilet upkeep. Space sounds fabulous.

She was actually supposed to return in June, the AP reports, “[b]ut when an extra seat opened up on this Soyuz, she jumped at the chance to stay in orbit an extra three months.” She is, however, eager to return to flushable toilets. “Trust me, you don’t want to know the details.”

She’s broken record after record–most significantly that at a total of 665 days, she’s spent the most time in space of any woman and any American astronaut. At age 57, she’s also the world’s oldest female astronaut. NASA notes that over the course of these 4,623 orbits, she and her crewmates contributed to research to the effects of microgravity on human eyes (their own) and stem cells. They also conducted an antibody investigation “that could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment, and the study of plant physiology and growth in space using an advanced plant habitat.”


She tells the Associated Press that the nine months at the International Space Station “went by very quickly” and writes wistfully on looking down on the planet from on high:

I will miss seeing the enchantingly peaceful limb of our Earth from this vantage point. Until the end of my days, my eyes will search the horizon to see that curve.

Peggy Whitson, poet laureate of the International Space Station, wizard of space cabbage, queen of #squatgoals, top model of space, master of the universe, and winner of my heart.


Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo

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Cathy Earnshaw

SPACE Y’ALL! SPAAAAACE! I recently watched this documentary about the Voyager spacecrafts (that have been out there for 40 years now and became the first manmade objects to leave our solar system a few years ago) and it was one of the best things I have ever seen. So incredibly moving, and so informative too.