U.S. Astronaut Becomes the Oldest Woman in Space

I love the study of Space and have great respect for the Astronauts brave enough to go up there and discover things so taking a time out of my regular posting of Political things to post this lovely bit of News with Photos.

Be sure to visit Space.com for some awesome Dream Come True Stories

 

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NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is on the verge of becoming the oldest woman in space, adding to her long list of barrier-breaking records.

Whitson will be 56 when she rockets off the planet Thursday. She’ll celebrate her 57th birthday in February on the International Space Station.

That’s a far cry from John Glenn’s space shuttle flight at age 77 and a few years shy of the male runners-up. But it’s enough to beat Barbara Morgan’s record as the world’s oldest spacewoman. Morgan waited so long to fulfil her role as Christa McAuliffe’s teacher-in-space backup that she was 55 when she finally flew in 2007.

This will be the third space station mission for Whitson, an Iowa-born biochemist, and her second stint as commander. She’ll launch from Kazakhstan with two younger men, Russian and French. They’ll join an American and two Russians at the space station.

“It is a great place to work and live, and I feel really lucky that we are going to be with friends while we’re there,” Whitson said Wednesday at the traditional day-before-launch news conference.

“Even if I’m just cleaning the vents in the fans, it all is important.”

Whitson was the first woman to serve as commander of the space station — in 2007, nine years into its lifetime. She also was the first — and so far only — woman to head NASA’s male-dominated astronaut corps. No other woman has spent more time in space.

‘All right, yes, I’m old.’– Peggy Whitson, NASA astronaut

Strict when it comes to lifetime radiation exposure, NASA insisted Whitson remain Earth-bound for a while after her last
mission.

“I would have rather gone sooner, but I’ll deal with it,” she said over the summer.

She’ll ride a Soyuz rocket with a Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Novitskiy, 45, and a French newcomer to space, Thomas Pesquet, who’s 38.

Launch is 3:20 p.m. EST Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“Dear Peggy, you’re such a brave woman who has won over hearts of all Baikonur residents,” city administrator Anatoly Petrenko said during a ceremony Wednesday. “I admire you. All the best at launch.”

During training, a French documentary crew followed Pesquet, focusing on his relative youth and fresh eyes. Whitson said the interest on her, by comparison, was for being “old and experienced.”

“All right, yes, I’m old,” she said in a NASA interview. She noted in a recent series of preflight interviews that it gets easier with age, knowing what to expect on a spaceflight and how to prioritize.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Whitson said that while she’ll miss her friends and family — biochemist husband Clarence Sams also works for NASA — probably the biggest challenge is the lack of variety in space food.

“There will be French food this time,” Pesquet assured her. He and his crewmates will enjoy dishes whipped up in advance by top chefs; Pesquet said he’ll prepare the New Year’s feast.

Whitson already has spent 377 days in space and performed multiple spacewalks. Her upcoming six-month mission should push her beyond 534 days in space, the U.S. record set in September by 58-year-old astronaut Jeffrey Williams.

Whitson said she’s had a lucky run with few regrets. But she told reporters last summer: “In terms of goals for NASA before I die, we need to be living on Mars. And I might not live that long, so they better get with it!”

 

NASA’s Peggy Whitson has circled the sun 56 times and now she’s the oldest woman in space.

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At 56, astronaut Peggy Whitson is a lot younger than John Glenn was when he flew in a space shuttle at 77, but when Whitson launched Thursday with two other crew members toward the International Space Station she became the oldest female astronaut in the world to fly into space.

The launch was 3:20 p.m. EST Thursday, which was early Friday morning at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Here’s a look back at her barrier-breaking career.

Above: From left, France’s Thomas Pesquet, Russia’s Oleg Novitsky and NASA’s Peggy Whitson wave to the crowd at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome before blasting off to the International Space Station.

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This will be the third space station mission for Whitson. Her first was in 2002.

Above: Crew members head to the launch pad for the space shuttle Endeavour on June 5, 2002 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Peggy Whitson is at center, second row.

Bruce Weaver / AFP

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Whitson became the first woman to command the International Space Station in 2007.

Above: Whitson smiles just before the launch of the Russian Soyuz rocket at the Baikonur cosmodrome on Oct. 10, 2007.

MIKHAIL METZEL / AP

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While Whitson was commanding the space station, the space shuttle Discovery, commanded by Pam Melroy, docked at the station, marking the first time both spacecraft had been commanded by women simultaneously.

Above: International Space Station commander Peggy Whitson poses with Pam Melroy, commander of STS-120, on Oct. 27, 2007 in the Unity node of the International Space Station.

AP/Nasa

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Whitson has already racked up more time in space than any other female astronaut. Her cumulative total is a few hours shy of 377 days. Her upcoming six-month mission should push her beyond 534 days in space, the U.S. record set in September by 58-year-old astronaut Jeffrey Williams.

Above: Whitson participates in a spacewalk that lasted more than seven hours on Oct. 10, 2007. During the spacewalk, Whitson and astronaut Daniel Tani replaced a motor at the base of one of the station’s solar wings.

NASA

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The ground crew helps Whitson after her landing in northern Kazakhstan on April 19, 2008. The Russian space capsule landed about 260 miles off course in Kazakhstan but the three-member crew was safe.

Sergei Remezov / Reuters

 

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Barbara Morgan held the previous record for world’s oldest spacewoman. She was 55 when she flew a space shuttle mission in 2007.

Whitson will turn 57 while aboard the space station.

Above: Peggy Whitson smiles during an examination in Star City outside Moscow on Oct. 25, 2016.

Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

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The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft that will carry Whitson and her two crewmates is transported to the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 13, 2016.

YURI KOCHETKOV / EPA

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Whitson gets her hair cut on Nov. 14 at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. She will be the first woman to command two missions at the space station.

Bill Ingalls / AP

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The moon rises behind Russia’s Soyuz-FG booster rocket that will carry Whitson and her crewmates to the International Space Station at the launch pad in Kazakhstan on Nov. 14.

Dmitri Lovetsky / AP

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The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome with Expedition 50 crewmembers Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and France’s Thomas Pesquet from the Baikonur cosmodrome early on Nov. 18.

Month in Space Pictures: October 2016

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson to become oldest woman in space

U.S. Astronaut Becomes the Oldest Woman in Space

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