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Female Astronaut Due To Set New Record For Stay On Space Station

U.S. astronauts Peggy Whitson (left) and Shane Kimbrough work outside the International Space Station last month.

The world's most experienced woman in space will add to her record-setting achievements by spending an extra three months in orbit on the International Space Station, NASA has announced.

Peggy Whitson, 57, was supposed to return to Earth in June but will remain on board until September under an agreement between NASA and the Russian space agency that enables her to return in a Soyuz capsule next fall.

Her mission will now last close to 10 months. Whitson has already spent more time in space than any other woman, and just last week set a record for the most spacewalks by a woman -- eight in all.

On April 24, she's due to set a new U.S. record for most accumulated time in space -- 534 days.

Whitson, a biochemist who grew up on a farm in Iowa, became an astronaut in 1996. She served as NASA's chief astronaut from 2009 to 2012, the only woman to ever hold the job.

Based on reporting by AP and