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14U News, Latest Science News, November 17, 2016

Peggy Whitson Will Be The First Woman
To Command ISS Twice
By Sumayah Aamr

Peggy Whitson of the United States will now be the first female astronaut to oversee the ISS twice in a row. This is indeed an honor and something to be proud of.

Three astronauts have already launched in their spacecraft which is headed for the ISS. The spacecraft they are on board is a Russian Soyuz rocket. Their entry into the ISS will make the total crew number rise to half a dozen.

The novel members are from an international team. They include in their ranks: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

Some of these crew members aboard the ISS will be breaking barriers in the next half a year or so. Pesquet is going to space for the first time. He is the 10th Frenchman to have gone into outer space.

The mission he is on has been called Proxima which is the closest star to our sun. While the Frenchman is a novice, Peggy is facing her third time in space. She has been a major player in the circuit since 2002.

She is also the first woman who has handled commanding position aboard the ISS for a second time in a row. This is a source of great pride. About a decade ago, she became the first woman to be designated to the job.

At the comparatively ripe age of 56, she will also be the oldest female to enter space. Thus she has beaten the last record-holder of such a title. Barbara Morgan was 55 when she went on a journey on the Space Shuttle in 2007. In fact, Whitson will be celebrating her 57th birthday aboard the ISS.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, November 17, 2016, Page 1

Back to Space!
Whitson to blast off Nov. 17

By Curtis Riggs

Current NASA astronaut and Beaconsfield native Dr. Peggy Whitson is currently in Russia preparing to take off for another trip to the International Space Station.

Expedition 50/51Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy of Roscomos and Flight Engineers NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) are set to launch Thursday, November 17 on a six-month mission to the space station.

This will mark Whitson's third mission to the International Space Station. She was its first female commander in 2007. Combined with her 2002 mission, [Whitson] has logged the most days in space of any female in NASA history - 377.

She became a NASA astronaut in 1996 and has walked in space six times.

At age 56, she has endured 19 months of training and medical testing to ensure she is fit for the mission.

"I think it gets easier as you get older," she told the Iowa City Daily. "You know what to worry about and what not to worry about. You prioritize your effort. It's the 'work smarter, not harder' that with experience is much easier to do."

As flight engineer, her duties on this mission will be different from previous missions. For example, she and her colleagues will seek to answer the question, "What is a second in space?" This is critical information in calculating a time stamp. Time stamps are crucial in the operation of cell phones and many other electronic devices.

A 1978 graduate of Mount Ayr Community High School, Whitson is the daughter of Beth and Keith Whitson of Beaconsfield.

UPI, Home/Science News, December 30, 2016

Space station battery replacements
to begin New Year's Eve
By Brook Hays

HOUSTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The batteries that store the energy generated by the International Space Station's four solar panel arrays are being replace. The initial work, which will be executed by the space station's robotic arm Dextre is scheduled to begin on New Year's Eve.

Over the course of two weeks, the space station's 12 older nickel-hydrogen will be replaced by six new lithium-ion power packs which were delivered by a Japanese cargo ship earlier this year.

NASA engineers at the Johnson Space Center will control the initial replacement work carried out by Dextre. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson, as well as ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, will assume battery swap details during a pair of spacewalks on Jan. 6 and 13. Dextre will apply the finishing touches a few days later.

Without the remotely-controlled arm operations, it would take six spacewalks to carry out the battery swap out. But arm operators in Houston, starting New Year’s Eve, will swap out three batteries before Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson venture outside on Jan. 6 to continue the work.

After additional robot arm operations, Kimbrough and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will carry out a second spacewalk Jan. 13 before a final round of robot arm operations Jan. 14 and 15.

It is the most complex remotely controlled robot arm work yet implemented aboard the space station, an intricate, multi-step, multi-shift procedure that resembles a shell game of sorts, with old and new batteries moving to and fro between a cargo pallet, temporary mounting fixtures and a solar array electronics unit.

The space station is equipped with four huge sets of solar arrays that slowly rotate to track the sun as the laboratory circles the Earth. Each set of arrays powers two of the station’s eight electrical buses and each set of arrays is equipped with 12 nickel-hydrogen batteries to provide electricity when the lab is in Earth’s shadow.

Station assembly began in 1998 and the original-equipment batteries are losing strength. So, over the next few years, all 48 of the nickel-hydrogen batteries will be replaced with 24 smaller, more efficient lithium-ion batteries that will keep the station in good health through its remaining life.

The first set of six replacement batteries was carried to the station aboard a Japanese HTV cargo ship that reached the lab complex Dec. 13. Flight controllers in Houston used the station’s robot arm, equipped with a multi-appendage hand-like special purpose dexterous manipulator, or SPDM, to remove a pallet carrying the new batteries on Dec. 14.

With the battery replacement work out of the way, the station crew will focus on research as Kimbrough, Soyuz MS-02 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and flight engineer Sergey Borisenko wind up their stay in orbit before returning to Earth in late February.

Their replacements, Soyuz MS-04 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA flight engineer Jack Fischer, are expected to launch at the end of March.

The Russians have not yet revealed the results of an investigation to find out what triggered the loss of a Progress cargo ship Dec. 1 or what impact that might have on downstream flights.

WHO-13 TV.com, January 19, 2017

Whitson Giving Iowa Students
‘Out of this World’ Opportunity
By Staff Writer

JOHNSTON, Iowa – Some lucky Iowa grade-schoolers are getting the chance to chat with a real-life astronaut Thursday.

Iowa-native Peggy Whitson is now serving aboard the International Space Station. She’s the flight engineer on Expedition 50/51 and has been in space since November.

Whitson will speak with fourth graders from Oskaloosa and Mount Ayr Thursday as part of a satellite downlink through Iowa Public Television in Johnston.

You can see the conversation for yourself live online Thursday morning in between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. here [link no longer available] or when it airs on Iowa Public Television Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 06, 2017, Page 1

ROCKET (Wo) MAN!
Whitson sets more space records

A 1978 Mount Ayr Community graduate continues to set records as a NASA spaceflight pioneer.

On Thursday, March 30, Peggy Whitson exited the International Space Station for the second time in seven days and spent seven hours and four minutes working outside the station. Mid-way through that excursion Whitson broke the record for total spacewalking time by a female astronaut, eventually amassing a total of 53 hours and 22 minutes. The previous record was held by fellow American astronaut Sunita L. Williams. In addition, Whitson's amassed time ranks her as the fifth most experienced space walker of all time.

Spacewalk records are not the only ones achieved by Whitson. Heading into this mission, she had logged more days in space (377) than any other female to date, and on April 24 she expects to surpass the record for most cumulative days in space by any American astronaut, man or woman - 534. That record will only grow as Whitson is not scheduled to return to earth until June, and some reports speculate that she may extend her current mission until September.

Whitson, who turned 57 in February, also holds the record as the oldest woman to ever fly in space and to have completed a spacewalk.

Her current mission, Expedition 50/51, is Whitson's third long-duration stint at the International Space Station. She previously served two 6-month tours in 2002 with Expedition 5 and with Expedition 16 in 2008, for which she was named the first female mission commander.

Whitson is the daughter of Keith and Beth Whitson of Beaconsfield.

Des Moines Register
Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa
Monday, April 24, 2017

Iowa astronaut breaks record for most time in space by American

AP ~ CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Iowa-born astronaut Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record Monday for most time in space and talked up Mars during a congratulatory call from President Donald Trump.

The International Space Station's commander surpassed the record of 534 days, two hours and 48 minutes for most accumulated time in space by an American.

"This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight," Trump said. His daughter and close adviser, Ivanka Trump, also offered congratulations to Whitson from the Oval Office.

Whitson said it's "a huge honor" to break such a record. "It's an exciting time" as NASA prepares for human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s, included in new legislation signed by Trump last month. She called the space station "a key bridge" between living on Earth and traveling into deep space, and she singled out the station's recycling system that transforms astronauts' urine into drinking water.

"It's really not as bad as it sounds," she assured the president.

"Well, that's good, I'm glad to hear that," he replied. "Better you than me."

Whitson already was the world's most experienced spacewoman and female spacewalker and, at 57, the oldest woman in space. By the time she returns to Earth in September, she'll have logged 666 days in orbit over three flights.

The world record — 879 days — is held by Russian Gennady Padalka. Whitson broke the NASA cumulative record set last year by astronaut Jeffrey Williams; Scott Kelly holds the U.S. record for consecutive days in space — 340.

Whitson is also the first woman to command the space station twice and the only woman to have led NASA's astronaut corps. Behind her was a banner that read: "Congrats Peggy!! New U.S. High-Time Space Ninja." The sign arrived Saturday on the commercial cargo ship, the S.S. John Glenn — barely in time for Monday's celebration.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, who arrived at the space station last week and took part in Monday's call, said the space station is "by far the best example of international cooperation."

Whitson told the president that spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting to Mars will require collaboration from other countries to succeed. NASA is building the hardware right now to test a new rocket that will carry astronauts farther from Earth than ever before, she said.

"Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?" Trump replied.

"We'll do our best," Whitson replied.

The debut of the mega rocket is still more than a year away — at least. The date will depend on whether astronauts are on board for the test flight, which could hoist the new Orion capsule to the vicinity of the moon.

Both Whitson and Fischer raised a hand when Trump asked which one of them was ready to go to Mars.

Joining Trump in the Oval Office was astronaut Kate Rubins, who last summer became the first person in space to perform entire DNA decoding, or sequencing. She said she used a device the size of a cellphone for the job, and noted that such sequencing can detect microbes aboard spacecraft and monitor astronaut health.

"That's fantastic," Trump said. "I've been dealing with politicians so much, I'm so much more impressed with these people, you have no idea."

Whitson grew up near tiny Beaconsfield (population 15) in southern Iowa and graduated from Mount Ayr High School in 1978.

Peggy Whitson
BORN: Feb. 9, 1960 ~ HOMETOWN: Beaconsfield

EDUCATION: Mount Ayr Community High School, 1978. Bachelor's degree in biology/chemistry, Iowa Wesleyan College, 1981. Doctorate in biochemistry, Rice University, 1985.

NOTE: Peggy Whitson returned to the International Space Station in November of 2016, to extend her world record for most days in space by a female.

April 25, 2017, Associated Press

Astronaut breaks U.S. space record, gets call from Trump
By Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Astronaut Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record Monday for most time in space and talked up Mars during a congratulatory call from President Donald Trump.

The International Space Station's commander surpassed the record of 534 days, two hours and 48 minutes for most accumulated time in space by an American.

"This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight," Trump said. His daughter and close adviser, Ivanka Trump, also offered congratulations to Whitson from the Oval Office.

Whitson said it's "a huge honor" to break such a record. "It's an exciting time" as NASA prepares for human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s, included in new legislation signed by Trump last month. She called the space station "a key bridge" between living on Earth and traveling into deep space, and she singled out the station's recycling system that transforms astronauts' urine into drinking water.

"It's really not as bad as it sounds," she assured the president.

"Well, that's good, I'm glad to hear that," he replied. "Better you than me."

Whitson already was the world's most experienced spacewoman and female spacewalker and, at 57, the oldest woman in space. By the time she returns to Earth in September, she'll have logged 666 days in orbit over three flights.

The world record — 879 days — is held by Russian Gennady Padalka. Whitson broke the NASA cumulative record set last year by astronaut Jeffrey Williams; Scott Kelly holds the U.S. record for consecutive days in space — 340.

Whitson is also the first woman to command the space station twice and the only woman to have led NASA's astronaut corps. Behind her was a banner that read: "Congrats Peggy!! New U.S. High-Time Space Ninja." The sign arrived Saturday on the commercial cargo ship, the S.S. John Glenn — barely in time for Monday's celebration.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, who arrived at the space station last week and took part in Monday's call, said the space station is "by far the best example of international cooperation."

Whitson told the president that spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting to Mars will require collaboration from other countries to succeed. NASA is building the hardware right now to test a new rocket that will carry astronauts farther from Earth than ever before, she said.

"Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?" Trump replied.

"We'll do our best," Whitson replied.

The debut of the mega rocket is still more than a year away — at least. The date will depend on whether astronauts are on board for the test flight, which could hoist the new Orion capsule to the vicinity of the moon.

Both Whitson and Fischer raised a hand when Trump asked which one of them was ready to go to Mars.

Joining Trump in the Oval Office was astronaut Kate Rubins, who last summer became the first person in space to perform entire DNA decoding, or sequencing. She said she used a device the size of a cellphone for the job, and noted that such sequencing can detect microbes aboard spacecraft and monitor astronaut health.

"That's fantastic," Trump said. "I've been dealing with politicians so much, I'm so much more impressed with these people, you have no idea."

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey and Vivian Salama contributed to this report

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 27, 2017, Pages 1 & 9

Whitson sets space duration record for U.S.
Gets call from president

She's done it again!

Ringgold County native and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson this week set the record for cumulative days in space by a U.S. astronaut.

At 1"27 a.m. EDT on April 24, Whitson marked her 535th cumulative day in space, surpassing the record formerly held by astronaut Jeff Williams.

And she's not done yet. According to NASA, Whitson' mission has been extended to early September. By that time she will have accumulated over 650 days in space.

The world record for cumulative days is held by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who logged 878 days over five missions.

To mark Whitson's achievement, President Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins communicated Monday morning with Whitson and fellow astronaut Jack Fischer via a video link with the International Space Station.

"This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight," Trump told Whitson. "You have broken the record for the most total time spent in space by an American astronaut. That's an incredible record to break. On behalf of our nation and, frankly, on behalf of our world, I'd like [Page 9] to thank you."

"It's actually a huge honor to break a record like this," Whitson replied. "It's an honor for me to be representing all the folks at NASA who make space travel possible and make me setting this record feasible."

Whitson is no stranger to milestone spaceflight achievements.

She was the first woman to command the International Space Station, a position she currently holds for a second time.

She holds the current records for most spacewalks by a female (8) and cumulative time spacewalking time for a female (53 hours, 22 minutes).

Whitson is planning to complete her ninth spacewalk May 12, a mission scheduled to last over six-and-a-half hours. If all goes as planned, her total for nine spacewalks will be nearly 60 hours, moving her up to third all-time behind cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev (82 hours, 22 minutes) and former NASA astronaut Mike Lopez-Alegria (67 hours, 40 minutes).

"I don't really know how I got this lucky!" Whitson said earlier in an interview with CBS News. "It's been amazing to have the opportunities that I've had, it's just amazing to me (how) some dedication and a lot of hard work paid off at the end. It's just unbelievable."

Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2017


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