Astronaut Peggy Whitson Ends Record-Breaking Space Mission with Smooth Landing

Astronaut Peggy Whitson Ends Record-Breaking Space Mission with Smooth Landing

Astronaut Peggy Whitson Ends Record-Breaking Space Mission with Smooth Landing

Wrapping up a record-setting flight, Peggy Whitson, America's most experienced astronaut with almost two years of time in orbit across three missions, returned to Earth Saturday after a 288-day stay aboard the International Space Station, landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan with Soyuz MS-04 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineer Jack Fischer.

NASA said it would review its schedule for Whitson and Fischer to return to the city.

Descending gently under a billowing orange-and-white parachute, the Soyuz crew module, scorched after a fiery high-speed plunge back into the atmosphere, settled to a jarring rocket-assisted touchdown near the town of Dzezkazgan at 9:21 p.m. EDT (GMT-4; 7:21 a.m. Sunday local time).

At the time of undocking, Expedition 53 will begin aboard the station under the command of Randy Bresnik.

During her third mission aboard the station, Whitson spent much of her time on experiments, including studies of cancerous lung tissue and bone cells.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson was the last to be carried from the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. She's also eager to reunite with her husband, Clarence Sams, a biochemist who also works at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and two crewmates made a parachute touchdown in Kazakhstan on Saturday, capping a career-total 665 days in orbit, a USA record. Returning Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin has logged even more time in orbit: 673 days over five missions. Whitson's 665 days off the planet, 288 days on this mission alone exceeds that of any other American and any other woman worldwide. The crew is also set to go through a standard post-flight medical evaluations.

Whitson was supposed to fly back in June after a half-year in space. He spent 136 days in orbit. She has completed a 288-day long mission.

Whitson also holds the record for most spacewalks by a female.

The Expedition 52 crew poses for a portrait at the International Space Station.

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.

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