Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly may hold the U.S. record for most consecutive days in space, but he’s been surpassed by Jeff Williams, the International Space Station’s current commander, when it comes to total days in orbit.
Today Williams zoomed past Kelly’s 520-day cumulative record, and by the time his six-month stint on the space station ends on Sept. 6, he’ll have racked up 534 days in all.
Kelly called up his congratulations from Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas.
“But I do have one question for you,” Kelly cracked, “and my question is, you got another 190 days in you?”
“One hundred and ninety days in me?” Williams replied. “That question is not for me. That’s for my wife.”
In March, Kelly finished up nearly a year in space — 340 days, to be exact. That mission was aimed at helping NASA figure out how astronauts would cope with even longer missions to Mars and back.
Williams has racked up his record tally over the course of four space missions, including a shuttle flight in 2000 and three long-term stays on the space station.
His cumulative record won’t last long. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who currenty has 377 days in space, is due to surpass Williams’ total during a space station tour of duty that begins in November.
But it’s important to stress we’re talking about U.S. records here: The Russians hold the title not only for most cumulative days in space (879 days for Gennady Padalka, set last year) but also for consecutive days (437 days and 18 hours in 1994-1995).