NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson just became the world’s most experienced female spacewalker.
On Thursday she performed her eighth spacewalk from the International Space Station, where she helped prepare a docking port that will one day be used by SpaceX and Boeing. This is her third tour of duty aboard the ISS. She’s been in orbit since November. Thursday’s walk brought her total spacewalk time past the previous record of 50 hours and 40 minutes, held by Sunita Williams.
This isn’t Whitson’s only ground-breaker. She is also the first woman to command the International Space Station, which she has done twice in her career.
Whitson started working with NASA in 1989, as a research biochemist, just six years after Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. She’s 57, originally from Beaconsfield, Iowa, and has a doctorate in biochemistry.
She is scheduled to return to Earth in June but could stay deployed until September. By that time, she’ll likely have spent more time spacewalking than any other American astronaut —male or female.