30 Facts About Peggy Whitson


In 2017, Peggy Whitson became the first woman to command the International Space Station twice.


Peggy Whitson holds the records for the oldest woman spacewalker and the most spacewalks by a woman.


Peggy Whitson is still the oldest woman to orbit the Earth a record she broke in 2023, at 63.


Peggy Whitson later became a consultant for Axiom Space and is the commander of Axiom Mission 2.


Peggy Whitson was included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2018.


Peggy Whitson grew up on a farm outside the town of Beaconsfield, Iowa, with her sister, Kathy, her brothers, Brian and Hugh, and her parents, Keith and Beth.


Peggy Whitson decided to become an astronaut after she watched the first moon landing on television as a child in 1969.


Peggy Whitson graduated from Mount Ayr Community High School in 1978 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1981.


Peggy Whitson then went on to earn her doctorate degree in biochemistry from Rice University in 1986, then continued at Rice as a Robert A Welch Post-doctoral Fellow until October 1986.


From April 1988 until September 1989, Peggy Whitson served as the Supervisor for the Biochemistry Research Group at KRUG International, a medical sciences contractor at NASA-JSC.


From 1991 through 1997, Peggy Whitson became an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.


In 1997, Peggy Whitson began teaching as adjunct assistant professor at Rice University in the Maybee Laboratory for Biochemical and Genetic Engineering.


From 1989 to 1993, Peggy Whitson worked as a research biochemist in the Biomedical Operations and Research Branch at NASA-JSC.


From 1993 through 1996, Peggy Whitson held the additional responsibilities of the deputy division chief of the Medical Sciences Division at NASA-JSC.


In June 2003, Peggy Whitson commanded the NEEMO 5 mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory, living and working underwater for 14 days.


Peggy Whitson was the first female, and first non-pilot to serve as Chief Astronaut.


Peggy Whitson resigned when she went back on active flight status in July 2012, replaced by Robert Behnken.


Peggy Whitson has served twice as the commander of the International Space Station.


Peggy Whitson is the Director of Human Space Flight for Axiom Space.


In May 2021, Peggy Whitson was confirmed as commander of the second Axiom mission Axiom Mission 2.


Peggy Whitson was named the first NASA science officer during her stay, and she conducted 21 investigations in human life sciences and microgravity sciences, as well as commercial payloads.


Peggy Whitson spent 191 days, 19 hrs and 8 mins in space on this mission.


Three hours and 37 minutes into the spacewalk, Peggy Whitson surpassed NASA astronaut Sunita Williams with a total time at that point of 29 hours and 18 minutes.


Peggy Whitson now holds the record for the oldest female spacewalker, and is tied with the record for total spacewalks by a woman, along with Sunita Williams.


On May 12,2017, Peggy Whitson performed her ninth career EVA with Jack Fischer.


On May 23,2017, Peggy Whitson performed her tenth career EVA with Fischer.


On June 1,2017, Peggy Whitson passed over the command of the International Space Station to Fyodor Yurchikhin, who was named commander of Expedition 52 until he, Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer returned to Earth aboard Soyuz MS-04 in September 2017.


Peggy Whitson returned to Earth on September 3,2017, after she accrued a total of 665 days in space over the course of her career.


In June 2020, Peggy Whitson was a guest on an ABC-TV To Tell the Truth episode in which Patti LaBelle correctly selected her as the record-holding time in space astronaut.


On May 21,2023, Peggy Whitson launched on the private Ax-2 mission aboard Crew Dragon Freedom.