NASA astronaut, Peggy Whitson, became the oldest woman to travel in space on Friday.
Whitson was part of Expedition 50/51, which launched at 2:20 a.m. local time in Kazakhstan from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. On launch, the American astronaut, who is age 56, became the oldest woman in recorded space travel history.United States of America National Aeronautic Space Administration astronaut, Barbara Morgan, was the previous record holder for women at 55 years of age. John Glenn holds the record for oldest man to space travel at 77 years old.
Whitson also holds the record for the longest time spent in outer space by a woman with a mark of 377 days. Whitson also became the first female commander of the International Space Station onExpedition 16 and will become the first woman to command the ISS twice. This is her third trip total.
Whitson is joined by European Space Agency astronaut, Thomas Pesquet, and Roscosmos (Russian space agency) astronaut, Oleg Novitskiy. The crew is expected to arrive at the International Space Station on Saturday and is tasked with bringing to completion a series of scientific experiments. They are due to return to Earth in the spring of 2017. There are, at the moment, two Russians and an American astronaut aboard the ISS.
Whitson was born and raised in Iowa. She received her bachelor of science degree in chemistry and biology from Iowa Wesleyan College and then her doctorate in biochemistry. She was then almost immediately named a Robert A Welch Post-doctoral Fellow.