Late last month, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams set a new cumulative space time record for an American astronaut after having spent a grand total of 520 days in space over multiple space missions.
His new record surpasses even that of the year-in-space record-holder Scott Kelly, who retired from NASA following his return from space. Kelly even got on the phone to congratulate Williams in person in an Earth-to-Space telephone call.
Following this great achievement, the astronaut ended his space tour this week and returned to Earth safely on Tuesday. Williams boarded a Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft from the International Space Station, along with Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, to make his descent, which reportedly went very smoothly.
Image Credit: NASA
The spacecraft touched down on Earth soil at 9:13 P.M. EDT, just southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.
“No other U.S. astronaut has Jeff’s time and experience aboard the International Space Station. From his first flight in 2000, when the station was still under construction, to present day where the focus is science, technology development and fostering commercialization. Jeff even helped prepare the space station for future dockings of commercial spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program,” said Kirk Shireman, ISS Program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We’re incredibly proud of what Jeff has accomplished off the Earth for the Earth.”
In a public statement, NASA talks about Williams’ current achievements and how he has helped so much to make the International Space Station what it is today. He played a big role in installing the new Commercial Crew module onto the International Space Station, which will make it possible for the United States to send its own spacecraft to the International Space Station without so much dependence on Russia’s Soyuz.
In addition to making the International Space Station a better place, the crew that returned this week also played a big role in space experimentation. NASA cites that hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth science that help increase our understanding of outer space as we know it.
With the Expedition 48 mission now completed, Williams currently has a grand total 534 days of space under his belt. The next mission to the International Space Station will include NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who is expected to surpass Williams’ new record to become the current American astronaut with the most cumulative space days.
The world record for most cumulative days in space is currently held by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who has well over 870 days racked up.