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520 days. That record, previously held by Scott Kelly, fell today as Jeff Williams became the U.S. astronaut record holder for most cumulative days in space. Williams’ third long-duration stay aboard the International Space Station is coming to an end. On September 6th, Williams is expected to have both feet planted back on Earth. He will have lived and worked in space for 534 days.
Did You Know: The record for most days spent in space belongs to Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. He has spent 879 days in space. It’ll be a long time before anyone approaches that record.
Scott Kelly, who recently spent a full year in space, was in mission control today and congratulated Williams on his accomplishment.
He did have one question for Williams, though. “Do you have another 190 days in you?” Kelly jokingly asks referring to a full-year aboard the ISS. “That question is not for me, that’s for my wife,” Williams quips back.
Kelly goes on to congratulate Williams and Kate Rubins for their successful spacewalk earlier this month to install the International Docking Adapter. This new docking port will make manned trips by SpaceX and Boeing a reality.
Kelly signs off by saying he hopes to see Williams the moment he touches down back on land on September 6th.
As for Williams last two weeks in space? He won’t be lounging around waiting for the time to pass by. Williams and Rubins will head back outside the ISS for another spacewalk on September 1st. Here’s what they will be doing.
Working on the port side of the orbiting complex’s backbone, or truss, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA will retract a thermal radiator that is part of the station’s cooling system. The radiator is a backup that had been deployed previously as part of an effort to fix an ammonia coolant leak. They’ll also tighten struts on a solar array joint, and install the first of several enhanced high-definition television cameras that will be used to monitor activities outside the station, including the comings and goings of visiting cargo and crew vehicles.
Jeff Williams’ history in space
The first of four trips to space began in 2000. Williams served as flight engineer and lead spacewalker for the STS-101 mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.
That mission delivered more than a ton of supplies to the ISS and prepared the station for the arrival of the Zvezda Service Module.
Williams and James Voss conducted one spacewalk to install several new batteries, smoke detectors and cooling fans in the Zarya Control Module. They also installed handrails on the Unity node to aid future spacewalks.
In 2006, Williams began his first six-month stay aboard the ISS with two other crewmembers (Expedition 13). Back then, the ISS only had two modules and three crewmembers. Today, the space station houses six crewmembers most of the time.
He then served as flight engineer on Expedition 21 and commanded Expedition 22. And now he’s wrapping up another lengthy stint as part of the Expedition 48 crew. Here he is back in June keeping tabs on a pair of satellites dubbed SPHERES.
Williams is expected to be back on Earth on September 6th. Three more ISS crewmembers will launch on September 23rd, two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut.