NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks US spaceflight record

Washington: Commander of the International Space Station’s Expedition 51 crew, Peggy Whitson officially set the US record on Monday for most cumulative days in space, surpassing NASA astronaut Jeff Williams’ record of 534 days.

“At 1:27 a.m. ET on April 24, @AstroPeggy has officially broken @Astro_Jeff’s record of 534 days in space,” NASA’s page for updates from the International Space Station said in a tweet.

Additionally, she is the first woman to command the space station twice, and holds the record for most spacewalks conducted by a female astronaut.

“It is one of those rides that you hope never ends. I am so grateful for all those who helped me on each of my missions!,” Whitson wrote on her Twitter page.

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who has spent 879 days on orbit in total, currently holds the world record for the number of cumulative days in space.

To congratulate Whitson for her record-breaking stay aboard the space station, US President Donald Trump will make a special Earth-to-space call from the Oval Office at 10 a.m. EDT (7.30 p.m. India time) on Monday, NASA said.

Trump will be joined by daughter Ivanka Trump and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins for the 20-minute call which will air live on NASA Television and stream on the agency’s website and Facebook page.

The call will be made available to schools, museums, and other organisations across the nation and globally, NASA said.