Russian/Soviet cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev currently holds the world record for most time in space with over 803 days in space. He attained the record on August 16, 2005.
As the first female commander for the International Space Station, Whitson has been present for many major events on the ISS. Five spacewalks occurred during her six-months aboard the ISS and three space shuttle crews visited her for further assembly and construction of the orbiting station.
Whitson will depart from the space station with Expedition 16 flight engineer and RSA cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi, her country’s first astronaut.
Whitson and Malenchendo were launched into space on October 10, 2007, and were joined at the International Space Station by spaceflight participant Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian to be launched into space.
The two Expedition 16 crewmembers and the spaceflight participant will get into the RSA Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft at about 10:00 p.m. EDT Friday, April 18, 2008 (0200 GMT April 19, 2008).
As a matter of interest, this is the first mission of a three-person Soyuz spacecraft in which females outnumbers males. However, Malenchendo is commanding the trip from the ISS to the Earth.
They are scheduled to undock from the Russian Zarya module at 1:05 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 19, 2008 (0505 GMT April 19, 2008).
The Soyuz commander will fire the ship’s de-orbit rocket engines at 3:37 a.m. EDT (0637 GMT) for about 4.32 minutes in order to slow down and begin their descent back into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Landing is scheduled on the Central Asian steppes of Kazakhstan at about 4:27 a.m. EDT (0827 GMT).
Expedition 16 commander Peggy Whitson has already given over command of the International Space Station to ISS Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov—the transfer occurred on Thursday, April 17.
Volkov is the son of another cosmonaut–Alexander Volkov.
Joining him on the ISS Expedition 17 mission is RSA cosmonaut/ISS flight engineer Oleg Kononenko and NASA astronaut/ISS flight engineer Garrett Reisman.
When STS-124 arrives at the space station, Reisman will be replaced by Gregory Chamitoff. NASA’s STS-124 crew is scheduled to be launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery on May 31, 2008.
NASA will be broadcasting the undocking and the landing of the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft live on NASA TV.
Coverage of the ISS Expedition 16/Spaceflight Participant Farewell and Hatch Closure begins at 9:30 p.m. EDT Friday, April 18, 2008 (0130 GMT Saturday, April 19, 2008).
The hatch is scheduled to close at 10 p.m. EDT.
The coverage of the Soyuz Undocking begins at 12:30 a.m. EDT.
The undocking is scheduled for 1:05 a.m. EDT April 19.
The coverage of the Deorbit Burn and Landing begins at 3:15 a.m.
The deorbit maneuver is scheduled for 3:37 a.m. EDT, and the landing of crew and spacecraft is scheduled at 4:27 a.m. EDT.
Congratulations Commander Whitson! on your record setting time in space!
Her NASA biography appears at: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.
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William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University