NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson returns back after completing 288 days mission in space. Now, she owns the record of being the first American to spend maximum time that is 655 days at the International Space Station. Whitson along with her crewmates US astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin landed in Kazakhstan at 9.22 p.m. EDT on Saturday (6.52 a.m. Sunday, India time).Whitson now holds the eighth spot on the all-time space endurance list, said NASA.
She landed in a Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft. Whitson's return will mark the end of her third long-duration stay onboard the space station. She launched on November 17 with 377 days in space already under her belt, and on April 24 broke Jeff Williams' standing US record of 534 cumulative days in space.Yurchikhin and Fischer, who launched in April, will complete 136 days in space on their return. Yurchikhin will return to Earth with a total of 673 days in space on his five flights, putting him in seventh place on the all-time endurance list.At the time of undocking, Expedition 53 will begin aboard the station under the command of Randy Bresnik.
Along with his crewmates Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency), the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members. Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, are scheduled to launch on September 12 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, NASA said.
The biochemist covered 122.2 million miles (196.7 million kilometers) and 4,623 orbits of Earth. In the latest mission, she conducted experiments with human stem cells, blood samples and grew crops such as Chinese cabbage. "My third crop did the best. This is Chinese Cabbage we have been growing for a couple of months now. The best part, was that after we harvested for the science, we got to eat the rest!" she wrote on her Facebook post. Whitson also holds the record for most spacewalks by a female. After accomplishing the mission, Whitson is craving for pizza and wants to use regular flush toilet again. She is also looking forward to reunite with her husband.
(With IANS inputs)