Without much fanfare, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will return to Earth on Saturday night—it will be Sunday morning on the steppes of Kazakhstan—aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. Quietly, she will have spent 288 days in space, or nearly 10 months. The duration of her spaceflight will fall short of only one other US astronaut, Scott Kelly, who returned to Earth in 2016 with a lot more attention after 340 days.
Whitson is known around NASA’s Johnson Space Center as perhaps the agency’s most efficient astronaut in space, regularly getting ahead of her timelines, research, and maintenance tasks for each day. Mission controllers typically have to come up with extra work. Partly because of this, she is one of only a handful of NASA astronauts to have been selected to serve three rotations on the International Space Station.