NASA astronaut sets a new record for time spent in space

He made the remark while congratulating NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has broken the record for the longest cumulative time a person has spent in outer space.

"This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight", Trump told Whitson, according to CNN. President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins gathered in the Oval Office this morning for a video conference with Whitson and her crewmate, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer.

Whitson responded, "It's actually a huge honor to break a record like this".

"It's really not as bad as it sounds", she assured the president.

"Well, that's good, I'm glad to hear that", Mr Trump said. "On behalf of our nation and, frankly, on behalf of the world, I'd like to congratulate you".

Before her latest launch in November, Whitson acknowledged to reporters that much of the interest in her has been for being "old and experienced". As of today, she has spent more time off of planet Earth than any other American. Whitson and her crewmate Jack Fischer, now aboard the International Space Station, took a few minutes to speak with Trump and chat about the different kinds of audacious things NASA and the international community are working on - including positioning the agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 1930s.

During the call, the two also discussed the importance of the International Space Station for deep space flights and NASA's plans to send human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s.

CORNISH: Also on the call, President Trump asked about the status of one of the most exciting space programs of the moment, the manned mission to Mars.

At the moment of breaking the record, Whitson spent 534 days, 2 hours, and 49 minutes in space.

"I get a little exhausted of the food up here after a while", she said.

She became the first female commander of the research outpost in April 2008, during her second, six-month tour of duty.

When Whitson was little, she had no female astronauts to look up to.

CORNISH: President Trump was calling outer space.

Trump agreed and remarked that he would like for NASA to reach Mars before the end of his presidency, although it was not clear whether his comment was a declaration of intent or a joke.

  • Carolyn Briggs