Renowned NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson retired from the American space agency on Friday, just nine months after returning to Earth from the International Space Station.
Image Credit: NASA
Whitson joined NASA in 1986 and became an astronaut ten years later. It was in 2002 that she visited the International Space Station for the first time during Expedition 5.
Throughout her career, Whitson shattered multiple records and set examples that will live on to inspire future generations of NASA astronauts.
Some of her most notable achievements include accumulating 665 space days over three separate missions (more than any other American astronaut) and conducting ten spacewalks (more than any other female astronaut).
Whitson also commanded the International Space Station twice during her career, which presents itself as another record for a female astronaut.
"It's been the greatest honor to live out my lifelong dream of being a @NASA Astronaut," Whitson said via her personal Twitter account.
"As I reminisce on my many treasured memories, it's safe to say my journey at NASA has been out of this world!"
Whitson’s choice to retire means she won’t be revisiting the International Space Station in the future. Although bittersweet, her efforts in space won’t be forgotten, as they helped to move humanity’s understanding of outer space forward.
“Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to NASA and America. We owe her a great debt for her service, and she will be missed. We thank her for her service to our agency and country.”
Notably, former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly also retired upon returning from his most recent space mission, which involved studying him and his twin brother to see how extended stays in space can impact the human body.