NASA astronaut sets a new record for time spent in space

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"We want to try and do it during my first term or at worst during my second term", Trump said, "so we're going to have to speed that up a little, OK?"

As of 1:27 AM EDT on Monday, April 24, Whitson exceeded the previous record of 534 consecutive days in space set by astronaut Jeff Williams.

If that seems like a long time, the all-time record for a human in space goes to Russian cosmonaut, Col. Gennady Padalka, who has almost 879 days in orbit!

Speaking from the Oval Office, President Trump, along with his daughter Ivanka and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, talked to Whitson and fellow astronaut Jack Fischer via video.

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Whitson, who has been on board the ISS since November 2016, is also commanding the space station for the second time.

"Well, it's actually a huge honor to break a record like this", Whitson said. "It's an honor for me basically to be representing all the folks at NASA who make this spaceflight possible and who make me setting this record feasible".

The latter praised Whitson, a biochemist, and Rubins, a biologist who studies cancer, as examples of accomplished women in science and math.

The president asked about the experiments being conducted on the station, which Fischer called "by far the best example of global cooperation, and what we can do when we work together, in the history of humanity".

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"Station, this is your president, do you hear me?" "You have no idea".

After Ms Whitson described technology to support long-duration manned trips to space - including a system that converts urine to drinking water for astronauts - Mr Trump went off script to express his disgust.

In addition to her new time-in-orbit mark, Whitson has spent more than 53 hours outside an airlock, engaged in spacewalks that added modules to the space station, among other duties. And with the recent extension of her stay at the International Space Station, she will accumulate even more time. She joined NASA in 1989 and was picked as a candidate to be an astronaut seven years later. She made her first trip into orbit in 2002, after two decades of work with the space agency on the ground.

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