Peggy Whitson, Ph.D (b. 1960)


Photo: Peggy Whitson, Twitter (@AstroPeggy)

Dr. Peggy Whitson is no stranger to trailblazing.  Dr. Whitson is the first female to command the International Space Station, and the first female to have commanded it multiple times.  She was also part of the first mission in which two female mission commanders have been in orbit at the same time.  Dr. Whitson is NASA’s oldest female officer, NASA’s most experienced female astronaut and currently holds the record for most spacewalks by a woman – her record-breaking eighth spacewalk took place in March.  Dr. Whitson is the astronaut with the most cumulative time in space, having spent more than 540 days and counting in space.

Originally trained as a biochemist, Dr. Whitson earned her Doctorate in Biochemistry from Rice University in 1985.  She held multiple research-related positions before becoming project scientist of the Shuttle-Mir Program in 1992.  Before becoming as an astronaut in 1996, she was deputy division chief of the medical sciences division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and co-chair of the US-Russian Mission Science Working Group.  On her first trip in 2002, Dr. Whitson took part in 21 science investigations and became the first NASA science officer.

When she returns to Earth in September 2017, she will have spent more than 650 days in space.  Peggy Whitson is an astronaut, biochemist, record-breaker, and woman you should know.