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American Astronaut Breaks Space Record

"Unfortunately, space flight takes a lot of time and money, so getting there will require some global cooperation to get it to be a planet-wide approach, in order to make it successful", Whitson said. "On behalf of our nation and, frankly, on behalf of our world, I'd like to thank you".

Trump called it "a special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight", and asked Whitson how it felt to have set the record. "That's an incredible record to break".

Whitson, an Iowa native, is no stranger to shattering records.

Whitson is now on her third long-duration stint on the ISS, and she's the only woman to twice serve as a station commander.

In a dramatic call from the White House on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time) with a pair of astronauts at the International Space Station, Trump urged NASA to speed up its exploration timeline to get humans on Mars "at worst, during my second term". In the video, which was also being watched by school children across the country, Trump asked Whitson what kinds of things she's learning on her mission. Peggy said that the trip is so expensive that it "will require some worldwide cooperation". "But it is so worthwhile doing".

The conversation did not end without a dose of Trump's signature turgidity.

Let's take a look at Peggy Whitson's record-breaking streak.

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

Literally and figuratively, it's been a long journey for Whitson since she started work at NASA in the 1980s. During this period she also returned to academic research and worked for the Department of Internal Medicine, and Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics at the University of Texas.

She is married to a fellow NASA biochemist, Clarence Sams.

Trump wrote to his Twitter account after signing the decision that his administration "supports scientists, engineers and NASA astronauts in their quest for discoveries". On April 9, she became the first woman to command it twice.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer.

But Trump had some qualms about life aboard the space station. Behind her was a banner that read: "Congrats Peggy!" Her 192 days in space on that mission included her first five spacewalks.

When Whitson repeated her mention of the 2030s - citing space flight's need for "a lot of time and money" - Trump jokingly replied, "Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term".

Before her latest launch in November, Whitson acknowledged to reporters that much of the interest in her has been for being "old and experienced".

Whitson, who's lived more than a year and a half at the International Space Station has set the US record for most cumulative days in space, beating Jeff Williams' of 534 days. He returned to the subject of sending Americans to Mars later in the talk.

By comparison, the space agency's funding level during the Apollo moon missions exceeded 4.5% of the national budget - about nine times higher.

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