Astronaut breaks US record: 521 days in space and counting

FILE - In this Friday, March 18, 2016 file photo, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, a member of the main crew of the mission to the International Space Station (ISS), waves prior his rocket launch at the Russian-leased cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. On Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, Williams, commander of the ISS, marked his 521st day in orbit, accumulated over four flights. That surpasses the 520-day record set by Scott Kelly, whose one-year space station mission ended in March. (AP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev, Pool)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — An astronaut has set a U.S. record for most time spent in space.

Jeffrey Williams, commander of the International Space Station, marked his 521st day in orbit Wednesday, a number accumulated over four flights. That surpasses the 520-day record set by Scott Kelly, whose one-years pace station mission ended in March.

By the time Williams returns to Earth in two weeks, he will have logged 534 days off the planet for NASA. His record won’t last long. Space station veteran Peggy Whitson will top that after she flies up in November for a six-month stay. She’s already at the 377-day mark for total space time, a record for a woman.

Kelly, who’s now retired from NASA, called Williams from Mission Control in Houston on Wednesday morning and offered congratulations.

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