Donald Trump congratulates record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson and jokes about drinking filtered urine

Clark Mindock
Peggy Whitson, who holds records for the most spacewalks carried out by a woman astronaut: Getty

After spending more than a year and a half living in space throughout her career, astronaut and International Space Station commander Peggy Whitson has received a congratulatory call from President Donald Trump to commemorate her record breaking time in orbit. During the chat they also happened to discuss drinking urine.

“It’s really not as bad as it sounds,” Ms Whitson told Mr Trump about the recycling program on the International Space Station that converts astronaut urine into drinkable water.

“Well, that’s good, I’m glad to hear that,” Mr Trump said. “Better you than me.”

Ms Whitson, 57, beat the previous US record of 534 days, two hours and 48 minutes spent in space. By the end of her current stint in space she will have spent 666 days in orbit between three space flights. She was already the most experienced female astronaut in US history and the oldest woman in space.

“This is a very special day in the glorious history of American space flight,” Mr Trump said of her achievement, speaking from the Oval Office Monday with his daughter Ivanka seated near him.

During the call, the two also discussed the importance of the International Space Station for deep space flights and NASA’s plans to send human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s.

Mr Trump at one point mentioned that he’d like to see humans make it to Mars before the end of his first term in office, an unlikely scenario since plans for manned space flight to Mars tend to schedule such a flight in the 2030s.

“Well, we want to try and do it during my first term, or, at worst, during my second term, so we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?” Mr Trump said when discussing NASA’s development of a new rocket to carry astronauts farther than ever before.

Trump’s interest in sending a manned flight to Mars isn’t anything new. Last month, after announcing sweeping cuts for much of the federal government, the president signed legislation authorising $19.5 billion in funding for NASA to help keep those plans on track.

Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka holds the world record for most time spent in space, with 879 days.