Veteran Astronaut Peggy Whitson broke the US space mission record books on Monday for the most time spent in space. The seasoned astronaut got a congratulatory call from President Donald Trump for her achievement.
"This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight," Trump said in a phone call to space, broadcast live on NASA television.
"That's an incredible record to break," he added from the Oval Office, flanked by daughter Ivanka and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins.
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.
Whitson said it's "a huge honour" 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 travelling 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,” Ms Whitson told Mr Trump about the recycling program on the International Space Station that converts astronaut urine into drinkable water.
“Well, that’s good, I’m glad to hear that,” Mr Trump said. “Better you than me.”
"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."
Trump signed a bill in late March to authorise funding for NASA, and to create a plan for putting people on Mars by the 2030s.
Whitson noted that researchers involved in the ISS are studying how to make a Mars mission become a reality by looking at the effects of microgravity on the human body and devising ways of recycling water.