Astronaut Jeff Williams Just Broke Scott Kelly's Space Endurance Record

Astronaut Jeff Williams, commander of the International Space Station, just broke Scott Kelly's space endurance record
Astronaut Jeff Williams, commander of the International Space Station, just broke Scott Kelly's space endurance record
Photo from NASA

Well that was quick.

It's only been about six months since now-retired astronaut Scott Kelly cracked the U.S. astronaut most-time-spent-in-space record, but another astronaut has already surpassed him.

On Wednesday astronaut Jeff Williams surpassed Kelly's 520-day record of U.S. space travel as he spent his 521st day in space. This makes Williams the 17th most experienced astronaut or cosmonaut in the world, but he's still got a long way to go to become a real contender.. Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka holds the world record for space travel after logging 878 days over the course of five missions.

But either way, Williams has now trumped Kelly's record for time spent in space. Kelly took his dethroning as most experienced U.S.  space traveler in stride. He radioed Williams on the International Space Station on Wednesday congratulating him for setting the new mark. “It’s great to see another record broken," Kelly told Williams, according to CBS. "But I do have one question for you. And my question is, do you have another 190 days in you?”

Kelly had recorded just under a year in space by the time he returned from the ISS back in March. While Williams had surpassed Kelly for most total days in space, Kelly referred to 190 days to point out that Williams will have to really buckle down if he wants to get anywhere near touching Kelly's time spent on a single flight.  

Williams laughed when Kelly mentioned 190 days. "That's not a question for me, that's for my wife!" 

Williams, Soyuz TMA-20M commander Alexey Ovchinin and flight engineer Oleg Skripochka were launched to the ISS on March 18. They're slated to return on September 6, landing in Kazakhstan and ending a 172-day mission. By then, Williams will have done 534 days in space, making him the fourteenth on the space endurance record list. 

However, Williams won't hold the record for long. Astronaut Peggy Whitson is scheduled to start a six-month stint on the ISS in November. With 377 days already under her belt — the most time a female astronaut has spent off planet — she'll surpass 534 days in a little over five months. 


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