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Trump congratulates record-breaking astronaut on International Space Station

U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, member of the 50/51 expedition to the International Space Station (ISS).
Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images
U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, member of the 50/51 expedition to the International Space Station (ISS).

President Donald Trump called the International Space Station on Monday to congratulate astronaut Peggy Whitson for staying in space longer than any other American.

Whitson, who has been at the ISS for 534 days and counting, is scheduled to stay there for at least another five months.

Her record surpasses that of fellow American astronaut Jeff Williams.

"That is an incredible record to break, and on behalf of our nation," Trump said during a call to the ISS on Monday morning, "and frankly on behalf of the world, I would like to congratulate you."

Whitson, 57, also holds the record for being the oldest American woman in space, and the first woman to command the ISS twice.

President Donald Trump speaks along with his daughter Ivanka Trump (R) and NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, during a video conference with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station in the Oval Office at the White House April 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks along with his daughter Ivanka Trump (R) and NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, during a video conference with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station in the Oval Office at the White House April 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.

"It is actually a huge honor to break a record like this, but it is also a huge honor for me to be representing all the folks at NASA who make spaceflight possible," Whitson said on the call with the president.

Trump signed a bill in late March to authorize 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.