Early last month, astronaut Peggy Whitson returned to earth, catapulting herself into the history books as a record shattering scientist and pioneer in space travel.
When it comes to the NASA space program, astronaut Peggy Whitson is no stranger to pushing the envelope and being the “first.” She has spent more days in space than any other American astronaut. At 57, she is the oldest woman astronaut and the oldest female spacewalker. She holds the record for the greatest number of space walks by a woman and the longest single space flight by a woman. Whitson is the first woman to hold the position of nonmilitary Chief of the Astronaut Office. She was also the first woman to command the International Space Station, an assignment which she held twice.
With her doctorate in biochemistry from Rice University, Whitson has made contributions to various experiments conducted at the International Space Station in biology, biotechnology, physical science and earth science. She has had various supportive positions on the ground, including Project Scientist of the Shuttle-Mir Program, Deputy Division Chief of the Medical Sciences Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group, before becoming an astronaut in 1996.
It seems that there will be more “firsts” for women astronauts in 2018 when Jeanette Epps is scheduled for a spaceflight in May and will become the first African-American International Space Center crew member.
If you’d like to learn more about how Peggy Whitson earned the nickname “American space ninja,” check out the links below.
Robbin Koenig, M.A., M.S. is an educator with an avid interest in technology and science education. She has taught students in prekindergarten through high school. Robbin enjoys volunteer work, exploring the N.Y.C. cultural arts scene, and anything pertaining to wildlife.