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In this photo provided by NASA, Expedition 48 NASA astronaut Jeff Williams rests in a chair outside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft a few moments after he and Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

An astronaut just broke the US record for the most time spent in Earth's orbit


Welcome home, Jeff Williams. 

I appreciate, Jeff, your efforts as the station's commander. You really did much to ensure success of the expedition.
Anatoly Ivanishin, commander of Expedition 49

Williams set the record for most time spent by an American in space. After a 172-day stay on the International Space Station, Williams had logged a total of 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes during his two ISS missions.

He landed in Kazakhstan with two Russian cosmonauts Tuesday night. 

So about that world record...

If Williams wants to break the world record any time soon, however, he will likely need to hitch a ride on a Soyuz. Russia's Gennady Padalka spent more than 878 days in space, spanning five missions. That's more than two-and-a-half years.

But the United States does hold the record for most time spent in space by a woman. Peggy Whitson logged 376 days aboard the ISS over two separate missions, according to

I am confident we are going to... take full advantage of the opportunities that [the ISS] gives for all humankind on Earth.
Jeff Williams

During Williams' stay in space, he and his crew ran hundreds of experiments and helped with resupply ships, including one by SpaceX.

Williams was a prolific photographer on the ISS, and published a book of photos.

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