Just last night saw the return to earth of US astronaut Peggy Whitson, who wrapped up a record-breaking flight of 665 days in space, of which 288 were spent solitary in space, exceeding by far that of any other American and woman for that matter, worldwide.
Ms Whitson had checked out of the ISS, the International Space Station, just a few hours earlier, together with another American and Russian astronaut. They were put in the Soyuz capsule which landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan shortly after the sun had come up on Sunday morning local time.
As per standard practice, all astronauts received a medical check-up. Afterwards Ms Whitson received a bouquet of flowers with the greeting: "Welcome back, Peggy."
Further to the endurance record, Whitson also improved on other US records whilst in space. She is now the world’s oldest spacewoman, at age 57, as well as the most experienced female spacewalker, with ten confirmed walks into outer space.
The ISS commander said: "We are in your debt for the supreme dedication that you guys have to the human mission of exploration," He also offered up special praise for Whitson — "American space ninja" — and wished them all Godspeed.
Peggy Whitson was asked for a reaction on Hurricane Harvey, which she saw developing from space: “Our home is fine, but so many friends and co-workers have been impacted. For example, in order to keep mission control running, the team (three shifts of a skeleton support crew) were sleeping on cots in the backup mission control rooms. Their sacrifices for the station and keeping things running up here are amazing.“
“And then there were so many others who "called in" to support various meetings and decisions that had to be made to keep the program running, all the while worrying about the sheetrock that needed to be torn out of their flooded house. All this was done because of the caliber of folks we are lucky enough to have working at NASA. Any trepidations I might have about returning in the aftermath of a hurricane are entirely eclipsed by the all those folks keeping our mission going and physically putting themselves out there to help folks who were less fortunate than us.”
From all of us here at The Goldwater: Godspeed Peggy.