Peggy Whitson is out of this world (sorry. not sorry)
A multinational NASA astronaut crew just blasted off to go to the International Space Station (ISS) and it’s not just exciting because it’s space (obviously!) but because one of the team has now become the oldest woman to ever fly in space.
Shooting up into space from the Russian Soyuz rocket, the expedition started from the Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport in Kazakhstan and is carrying Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
But, let’s talk a little more about Peggy Whitson, AKA space boss, because she is just smashing glass ceilings all round. She’s a biochemist who also happens to be NASA’s former chief astronaut. This also happens to be her third trip into space where she’ll be headed into a spaceport that lies 420 kilometres above anything we know here in Earth. Once there, they will be spending their time in the research lab that cost around $100 million to build.
Having completed six-month tours already twice previously: once in 2002 (as part of Expedition 5) and then again in 2008 (as part of Expedition 16), Peggy is no stranger to space. In fact, she’s actually the most experienced astronaut on the current team of Expedition 50 at age 56 while ‘rookie astronaut’ Thomas is 38 and Oleg is 45 and is on his second spaceflight.
And as if that wasn’t all enough for Peggy’s boss status, by the time she returns to Earth in around six months, she will have accumulated the most time in orbit than any other US astronaut ever, even beating astronaut Jeff Williams’ 534-day record.
The trio are set to land at the space station at 5.01PM EST, Saturday (after an estimated 3 day trip) and will be spending the next four months undertaking science research to learn more about biology, Earth science and human research.
Talk about a kickass woman.