Full Name
Peggy A. Whitson
Job Title
Astronaut, Director of Human Space Flight
Axiom Space
Speaker Bio
Peggy Whitson, Ph.D., America’s most experienced astronaut, is serving as commander on the Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), the second all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS). During her record-breaking NASA career, she flew on three long-duration space flights and accumulated 665 days in space, more than any other American astronaut or woman astronaut in the world.

Whitson has over 37 years of space and science experience with NASA, as a consultant and now as director of human spaceflight for Axiom Space. Throughout her career, she has held various positions, including NASA’s chief of the Astronaut Office, two-time commander of the International Space Station, chair of NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board, chief of NASA’s Operations Branch, and deputy division chief for both Medical Sciences and the Astronaut Office, as well as co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group.

On her next space mission with Ax-2, she will become the first female commander of a private space mission, adding to her accomplishment as the first female commander of the ISS, the only woman to serve as ISS commander twice, and the first woman, nonmilitary chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office.

During her three previous space missions to the ISS (Expeditions 5, 16, 50/51/52), Whitson conducted 10 spacewalks with over 60 hours to her credit and performed hundreds of research experiments on board the ISS. On her first long-duration ISS mission (Expedition 5), she was named the first NASA science officer conducting 21 investigations in human life sciences and microgravity sciences, as well as commercial payloads. Throughout her career, she has contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth science, and welcomed several cargo spacecraft delivering tons of supplies and research experiments.

Whitson received degrees in biology and chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan and a doctoral degree in biochemistry from Rice University.

She grew up on a farm outside the town of Beaconsfield, Iowa, with her siblings and parents, who were farmers. She decided to become an astronaut after she watched the first moon landing on television as a child in 1969.

Whitson has been honored with various NASA medals in Leadership, Outstanding Leadership, and Exceptional Service, as well as Glamour's Woman of the Year (2017), TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World (2018), and Women in Aviation Lifetime Achievement Award (2017).

Fast Facts about Commander Whitson:

Whitson holds the record among American astronauts and among women for spending the most time in space, 675 days

First female commander of the International Space Station and the only woman to serve as ISS Commander twice

First woman to command a private space mission, Ax-2

First woman and first non-military Chief of NASA's Astronaut Office

First ISS Science Officer

Holds the records for the most spacewalks by a woman (ten)

TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World (2018)
Peggy A. Whitson