A history-making astronaut has officially retired, leaving in her wake a stream of firsts and records set.
According to the Associated Press, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has retired almost a year after her last and longest space flight. In her storied career, not only was Whitson the first woman to command the International Space Station, AP reports that she has “spent more time off the planet than any other American: 665 days over three space station missions,” not to mention that she’s “also the world’s most experienced female spacewalker, with 10 under her spacesuit belt.”
Joining NASA in 1986 as a researcher, AP says Whitson’s career highlights also include serving as the only female chief of NASA’s “male-dominated astronaut corps,” as well as being the oldest woman to ever fly in space.
Director of flight operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston Brian Kelly explained Whitson’s impact in this way:
“She set the highest standards for human spaceflight operations, as well as being an outstanding role model for women and men in America and across the globe.”
As for Whitson, she took to Twitter to express how significant her time as a NASA astronaut has been, calling it “the greatest honor to live out my lifelong dream.”