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article imageAstronaut Williams overtakes Kelly for most days in space

By Jack Derricourt     Aug 25, 2016 in Science
One of the most distinguished records in the increasingly-space-bound United States is an astronaut’s cumulative days logged in space.
The former record holder, with 520 days, was Scott Kelly. As of this Wednesday, that record has been surpassed by current International Space Station occupant Jeffrey Williams. Williams will return to Earth on September 6th, leaving the record at 534 days.
The record was passed on in a very civil manner. Kelly greeted Williams from NASA Mission Control. Apart from a joke about ‘how would you feel about staying in orbit 190 more days?’ the conversation was all congratulations.
Kelly made headlines last year by becoming the NASA astronaut with the most days logged in space. A veteran of four space flights and three EVAs (totalling 18 hours and 20 minutes walking in space), Kelly concluded his career as an astronaut with an astonishing year-long period up at the ISS. An identical twin, Kelly’s time aboard the station was used in part to study the genetic effects of spaceflight on the human body. He and his brother Mark remain the only siblings to have travelled to space.
Selected for NASA’s astronaut program in 1996, Jeffrey Williams has witnessed the rapidly changing face of spaceflight firsthand. During his six-month mission to the ISS in 2006, he took more photographs than any other astronaut. You can see him wielding his faithful camera yet again during his current mission in NASA’s celebration of U.S. National Parks.
Williams has been a part of four EVAs, totalling 25 hours and seven minutes of space walks — including last week’s installation of the new dock to house Boeing and SpaceX flights to the ISS. He was also a part of the first live Twitter connection with the ISS; social media has become a huge part of how astronauts and cosmonauts communicate with people back home, and has spurred on massive interest about space among regular citizens, making Williams a witness to a truly formative moment in the history of the ISS.
Of course, the record, however impressive must be taken with a grain of salt. The most time in space is held in the majority by cosmonauts who manned Space Station Mir for staggering periods of time. With his new record of 534 days, once he has returned to Earth, Williams will rank 14th on the list of people with the most time spent in space. Gennady Padalka holds humanity’s record, and has logged 879 days in space, between both Mir and the ISS.
The U.S. record will also not be Williams’ for long. Astronaut Peggy Whitson is likely heading up to the ISS in November, and her six month mission would set her over Williams’ own record in turn. Whitson currently sits fourth in the NASA rankings for cumulative days in space, with 377 We at Digital Journal look forward to the Williams-Whitson exchange sure to follow.
More about NASA, Space, Iss, Scott Kelly, Jeffrey Williams
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