Record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson set to return to Earth

Record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson set to return to Earth

Astronaut Peggy Whitson returned to Earth late Saturday, wrapping up a record-breaking flight that catapulted her to first place for USA space endurance.

The expedition is somehow a bit affected by Hurricane Harvey and NASA is reviewing return plans to Houston of Ms Whitson, Mr Fischer and the science samples landing in the Soyuz spacecraft. After the crew gets checked out in a medical tent on-site, the helicopters will carry them back to Kazakhstan's Karaganda airport for a traditional welcoming ceremony before they board planes and head home.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 53 will begin aboard the station under the command of Randy Bresnik.

Historic rainfall in the region has wrought particular damage on built up Houston and NASA confirmed that the Johnson Space Center had seen "significant" damage in a Friday tweet.

Whitson ranks behind a handful of Russian cosmonauts record-setters who spent time on Russia's Mir space station as well as the International Space Station (ISS), where Whitson spent her most recent mission. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer returned after 136 days aloft. Whitson's 665 days off the planet, 288 days on this mission alone exceeds that of any other American and any other woman worldwide.

Whitson, a biochemist, set a breakneck pace on all three of her space station expeditions, continually asking for more _ and still more _ scientific research to do. Four years and two weeks, he pointed out. "There are many investigations on the human body that we've been doing up here in orbit, so we'll have to continue those studies as well during that first 45 days", Whitson said during an in-flight interview with Space.com.

"I am not sure what the future holds for me personally, but I envision myself continuing to work on spaceflight programs".

Referring to Whitson by her nickname - Space Ninja - Bresnik thanked her and wished her well in Japanese, saying "domo arigato gozaimasu, American Space Ninja Peggy". Three men remain at the space station: Bresnik, a Russian and an Italian. "Having three more months to squeeze is just what I would wish for".

Her crewmates include Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

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