Watch Record-Setting NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Return to Earth Tonight
NASA astronaut and biochemist Peggy Whitson will return to Earth as the planet's new record holder for longest time cumulatively spent on space by an American or a woman this weekend, touching down in a Russian Soyuz capsule in Kazakhstan at 7:22am local time (9:22pm Eastern).
Whitson has spent the last nine and a half months in Earth orbit on the
According to the
, one of the colleagues returning with her has spent even longer in the aether: Russian cosmonaut
The current world record holder, cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, spent some 879 days in space. Russians have long dominated both cumulative and single-flight durations in space; the single longest spaceflight record holder is Valeri Polyakov, who spent just short of 438 days aloft from 1994-1995.
As TechCrunch noted , Whitson was scheduled to return in June but "happily accepted" an invitation to stay on the ISS longer when Russian space agency Roscosmos canceled a joint mission to the station earlier in 2017.
Also accompanying Whitson and Yurchikhin on their way home is US astronaut
Whitson wrote she will "hugely miss the freedom of floating and moving with the lightest of touch, especially those first few days after my return when gravity will especially SUCK," the Post reported . She will also miss "the enchantingly peaceful limb of our Earth," adding, "Until the end of my days, my eyes will search the horizon to see that curve."
Watch Whitson, Yurchikhin and Fischer's return in real time via NASA's live feed below.
[ TechCrunch ]