NASA's Peggy Whitson takes command of space station

On April 24, 2017, she will break retired astronaut Jeff William's record of 534 cumulative days in space - the most for any American. Whitson extended her stay on the International Space Station (ISS) by three months.

Tomorrow, April 10, at 12:15 a.m., astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will leave the space station crew to come back to Earth in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. It's not the first time she's held this role, either.

On March 30, Whitson took part in her eighth spacewalk, becoming the only woman astronaut to do so in history. The capsule is scheduled to undock from the space station at 3:57 a.m. EDT.

On Sunday, NASA announced that Astronaut Peggy Whitson had broken yet another record for being the first woman to command the International Space Station twice. This mission was the first one for Ryzhikov, however, for Kimbrough and Borisenko this was their second mission to the ISS. The capsule will then hopefully land an hour later at about 7:21AM ET in Kazakhstan. He has performed six spacewalks during his career. While two of her male crew mates will return to Earth in June, Whitson will stay on board the station until September.

The departing crewmembers will be replaced by astronaut Jack Fischer and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, who are scheduled to launch April 20 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Space experts say that this piece might be making its way back to Earth, where it eventually will be burned up. Former commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson had the mission to install the thermal shield, but they lost it. NASA didn't explain how this happened, but the piece is indeed gone.

This week, Langbroek's camera spotted an especially large piece of space debris - a massive thermal shield. "By extending the stay of one of NASA's most veteran astronauts, our research, our technology development, our commercial and our global partner communities will all benefit", shared Kirk Shireman, NASA's ISS Program Manager.

  • Carolyn Briggs