By: MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA's record-breaking astronaut, Peggy Whitson, is retiring.
.@AstroPeggy Whitson, who holds the US record for most cumulative time in space, is retiring. Working here since 1986, she worked in several scientific roles before becoming an astronaut in 1996, eventually flying 3 times to @Space_Station. Read more: https://t.co/poZVG8yLk0 pic.twitter.com/Og0TBcnLx3— NASA (@NASA) June 15, 2018
The space agency announced her retirement Friday, her last day on the job.
Whitson has spent more time off the planet than any other American: 665 days over three missions. She was the first woman to command the International Space Station, holding the position twice, and the oldest woman ever to fly in space. She was also the world's most experienced female spacewalker and the first woman to serve as NASA's chief astronaut.
Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit. Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to @NASA and America. We owe @AstroPeggy a great debt for her service. https://t.co/sIfwSKKEk6— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) June 15, 2018
The 58-year-old biochemist joined NASA as a researcher in 1986 and became an astronaut in 1996. Her last spaceflight was last year.
NASA officials say Whitson set the highest standards for human spaceflight and was an outstanding role model across the globe.