The veteran astronaut of NASA and world’s oldest female astronaut – Peggy Whitson, who is currently an onboard crew of Expedition 50 mission gets three-month extra stay on the ISS, said NASA in its Wednesday’s official press meet.
NASA, during its official press event yesterday, announced that the American biochemistry researcher and agency’s former chief astronaut Peggy Whitson would stay on the International Space Station until September this year, because of the extended plan. The 57-year-old astronaut reached at the ISS in November, last year, as a part of Expedition 50 mission and was expected to come back to Earth in June this year. But under a new contract between NASA and the Russian Space Agency, now, she will stay on International Space Station (ISS) for another three months and will take the lead of a vacant seat on a Soyuz capsule in the fall.
It means the third mission of Peggy – Expedition 50 will now go on for close to 10 months. She is already the holder of numerous world records, including the oldest female astronaut, only female to take the utmost number of spacewalks, and so on. Now NASA experts are keeping an eye on the body structure of Peggy Whitson, in order to monitor if any changes occur there. This supervision will add to the information gained from retired cosmonaut Scott Kelly’s recent one-year flight to space.
According to the new treaty, signed by NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Whitson’s stay at the ISS will be extended for more three months in order to put together the most of Russia’s verdict to cut one post of cosmonaut from its space station crew of the Soyuz capsule, and leave a vacant seat on the three-person spacecraft. As per the new decision, Soyuz spacecraft, carrying the Expedition 51/52 crew, NASA’s Jack Fischer and Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, will reach the International Space Station on April 20, 2017, with one empty seat. Later in September, Whitson will fill that vacant seat and will accompany Fischer and Yurchikhin to make a comeback to Earth, said NASA.
According to NASA’s ISS Program Manager Kirk Shireman, “The exceptional skill and years of experience make Peggy an incredible personality for staying abroad the space station. By amplifying the stay of this veteran astronaut, we are expected to enhance the reach and benefits of research, space technology development, our commercial as well as the international partner communities.”