Rice faculty member and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson ’86 has broken a few things during her two stints aboard the International Space Station, but nobody is complaining.
Whitson, who served as the space station’s first-ever science officer her previous time aloft, broke the gender barrier this past spring as the station’s first female commander. She also broke the record for cumulative time in space for a U.S. astronaut, topping Mike Foale’s previous record of 374 days by two days.
In addition, Whitson performed five spacewalks during the most recent expedition, for a total of six career spacewalks encompassing 32 hours, 36 minutes. It’s an out-of-this-world accomplishment that puts her 20th on the all-time list — the highest ranking by a female astronaut.