Astronaut Peggy Whitson ’86 named to Texas Aviation Hall of Fame

Astronaut and Rice alumna Peggy Whitson ’86, who holds the U.S. record for most time in space, was recently selected for induction into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.

Peggy Whitson ’86

Peggy Whitson

A total of 76 people, including President George H.W. Bush and Howard Hughes, have received this honor since the hall of fame was established in 1995 to recognize Texans and Texas companies or organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to the advancement of aviation.

The four members of this year’s induction class — Whiston, former NASA flight director Christopher C. Kraft, businessman and helicopter pilot H. Ross Perot Jr. and World War II tactician Gen. Ira C. Eaker — were selected from more than 100 nominees by a panel of aviation historians and experts and the Lone Star Flight Museum Board. They will be inducted April 12 at the museum, located at Houston’s Ellington Airport.

Whitson, who earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Rice and serves as an adjunct associate professor of biosciences, set a new mark for spacewalks by a woman when she made her eighth in 2017; she finished her career with 10. Her cumulative spacewalking total of 60 hours, 21 minutes is the fourth-most in history.

Whitson completed her first space mission in 2002, which included a stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a member of Expedition 5. On her second mission, in 2007, she became the first female commander of the ISS.

When Whitson returned to Earth Sept. 3, 2017, after her final trip to space, she had accrued a total of 665 days in space over the course of her career, making her NASA’s most experienced astronaut and the woman with most time in space. She retired in June 2018.

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is editor of Rice New.