Trump congratulates NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson

"On behalf of our nation, and frankly, on behalf of the world, I'd like to congratulate you".

"This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight", Mr Trump said. When Whitson said a Mars trip would likely happen in the 2030s, Trump joked that NASA would have to speed up its timeline to complete the mission, "at worst, during my second term".

The previous record for an American in space, was that 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes, set by astronaut Jeff Williams. Her most recent mission aboard the ISS was extended until September, so once she returns to Earth, Whitson will have logged 650 days in space, setting the bar extremely high for future record-breaking.

The oldest woman ever in space, Ms Whitson also set a record for most space walks by a female astronaut last month, when she floated outside the space station for the eighth time in her career.

Speaking from the Oval Office, President Trump, along with his daughter Ivanka and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, talked to Whitson and fellow astronaut Jack Fischer via video.

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Ivanka Trump emphasized that Whitson, a biochemist, and Rubins, a biologist who studies cancer, were women who had excelled in math and science.

When asked what the astronauts are "learning up there in space", Whitson described to Trump how those at the International Space Station are researching ways to reuse certain materials such as human waste to create resources.

Record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson added yet another feather to her cap on Monday by becoming the first US astronaut with the most cumulative time in space. He worked on both Mir and the International Space Station. She made her first trip into orbit in 2002, after two decades of work with the space agency on the ground. And it's really not as bad as it sounds" Mr Trump, a self-confessed "germophobe", replied with a grimace: "That's good, I'm glad to hear that.

Donald Trump instructed Nasa astronauts to get to Mars within his first term - or failing that, his second term, in a livestream with Peggy Whitson.

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