Retired astronaut Peggy Whitson, 61, will return space on a SpaceX private flight

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Retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, 61, is dusting off her spacesuit for another journey to the final frontier.

Whitson, who has spent more time in space than any other US astronaut, will serve as the mission commander for a private flight to the International Space Station.

Along the way, John Shoffer, 65, will be an Arkansas driver who will pilot a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to the orbiting lab.

The missions, dubbed AX-2, are planned by Axoim Space, a Houston-based company focused on arranging commercial flights to space, and will commence in the second half of 2022.

Prices for the trip have not been disclosed, but the US government has previously indicated that each seat on a Crew Dragon could cost as much as $ 55 million.

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Retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, 61, is dusting off her spacesuit for another journey to the final frontier.  Whitson, who has spent the most time in space than any other US astronaut, will serve as the mission commander for a private flight to the ISS.  Photo taken in 2016

Retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, 61, is dusting off her spacesuit for another journey to the final frontier. Whitson, who has spent the most time in space than any other US astronaut, will serve as the mission commander for a private flight to the ISS. Photo taken in 2016

Whitson said, “I am thrilled to fly back to space and lead one of the first of these groundbreaking missions, ushering in a new era of manned space flight.

More than that, I look forward to the opportunity for Ax-2 to make space for the first full-generation private astronauts and link John directly to the research capabilities on the ISS.

“In the time we’ve spent together as crew members, it’s clear to me that John will be an excellent pilot and researcher. It is my pleasure to take him under my wing. ‘

Whitson is a household name in the space industry because she is known by an American as having the longest time spent in space.

The ride will be John Shoffer (right), 65, an Arkansas driver who will pilot a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to the Earth orbiting laboratory.

The ride will be John Shoffer (right), 65, an Arkansas driver who will pilot a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to the Earth orbiting laboratory.

Prices for the trip have not been disclosed, but the US government has previously indicated that each seat on a Crew Dragon (pictured) could cost as much as $ 55 million

Prices for the trip have not been disclosed, but the US government has previously indicated that each seat on a Crew Dragon (pictured) could cost as much as $ 55 million

Whitson clocked 535 days in space on April 24, 2017 at 1:27 a.m., but has spent a total of 665 days over the course of two separate missions.

In addition to breaking records during her 22-year career at NASA, Whitson also became the ISS’s first female Commander and ISS Science Officer.

And it looks like the retired NASA astronaut longs to return to space and will on a private flight through Axiom and SpaceX.

Whitson and Shoffner will train together in Axiom’s standard astronaut program to prepare them to lead the flight.

Shoffner said, “Growing up, I closely followed every NASA flight of Gemini and Apollo.

Whitson is a household name in the space industry because she is known by an American as having the longest time spent in space.  Whitson clocked 535 days in space on April 24, 2017 at 1:27 a.m., but has spent a total of 665 days over the course of two separate missions.  Photo from 2016

Whitson is a household name in the space industry because she is known by an American as having the longest time spent in space. Whitson clocked 535 days in space on April 24, 2017 at 1:27 a.m., but has spent a total of 665 days over the course of two separate missions. Photo from 2016

In addition to breaking records during her 22-year career at NASA, Whitson also became the ISS's first female Commander and ISS Science Officer.  Picture is Whitson in 2017

In addition to breaking records during her 22-year career at NASA, Whitson also became the ISS’s first female Commander and ISS Science Officer. Picture is Whitson in 2017

It is an honor to now experience astronaut training with Peggy. I am also excited about our upcoming work with 10x Genomics in this first step to make their single-cell technologies available to researchers in a microgravity environment.

“I look forward to the process of testing and validating this technology for future groundbreaking work in low Earth orbit.”

In addition to their flight training, the duo will learn how to translate terrestrial single-cell genomic methods into an orbital science process in collaboration with Pleasanton, California-based 10x Genomics, a company developing products to master biology for advancing human health.

Shoffner will receive specialized space operations training to assist the commander in flight as the crew capsule pilot and will work with Whitson to develop the protocols needed to conduct single-cell sequence experiments in microgravity.

Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said, “ Humanity’s expansion beyond the planet, and the benefits it can bring back, will only be sustained by building and serving the demand for extended living and working in low Earth orbit.

There’s no one better than Peggy – who would be the ISS ‘second private mission commander in history – to lead the way on a mission so central to that plan, and we’re delighted to have a pilot alongside her who is so passionate and committed to this plan. vision as John to strengthen this new era. ‘

WHO IS PEGGY WHITSON? THE RECORD-BREAKING CAREER OF A NASA ASTRONAUT

Peggy Whitson announced her retirement as a NASA astronaut on June 15, 2018.

But not before breaking several records during her 22-year career.

The 65-year-old biochemist made three trips to the International Space Station after becoming an astronaut in 1996 – and twice held the position of commander.

Whitson was the first woman to be in command of the space station.

She later became the oldest woman to ever fly into space. And as of June 2018, she spent more time off the planet than any other American, with a total of 665 days spread over three missions.

At the time, Whitson was also the world’s most experienced female spacewalker, with 10 under her space suit belt.

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