Veteran NASA astronaut hands over ISS command for second—maybe final—time

NASA’s most veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson handed over command of the International Space Station on June 1. The NASA veteran knew it might be for the last time.

She concluded Mission 51, which she commanded, and handed over the keys (metaphorically) to Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, who commands Mission 52.

She flew with Yurchikhin three times previously.

Whitson, 57, holds numerous records as an astronaut.

She has the most time in space for a female U.S. astronaut—second for female astronauts generally—and holds the record for the most time space-walking.

She is also the first woman to command the ISS twice.

Whitson is staying on for another three months. Then she will return to Earth.

She bade a laughing, tearful farewell to her departing co-workers.

She has to know that at some time, her story as an astronaut must end.

Obviously, from the emotion she shows, she realizes what an amazing story it already is.

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