Thursday, July 19, 2018
News Roundup

Astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has been in space longer than any American, gets a call from President Trump

CAPE CANAVERAL — Astronaut Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record Monday for most time in space and talked up Mars during a congratulatory call from President Donald Trump.

The International Space Station's commander surpassed the record of 534 days, two hours and 48 minutes for most accumulated time in space by an American.

"This is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight," Trump said. His daughter Ivanka also offered congratulations to Whitson from the Oval Office.

Whitson said it's "a huge honor" to break such a record. "It's an exciting time" as NASA prepares for human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s, included in new legislation signed by Trump last month. She called the space station "a key bridge" between living on Earth and traveling into deep space, and she singled out the station's recycling system that transforms astronauts' urine into drinking water.

"It's really not as bad as it sounds," she assured the president.

"Well, that's good, I'm glad to hear that," he replied. "Better you than me."

WATCH THE VIDEO: Trump jokes with astronaut about urine in space

Whitson already was the world's most experienced spacewoman and female spacewalker and, at 57, the oldest woman in space. By the time she returns to Earth in September, she'll have logged 666 days in orbit over three flights.

The world record — 879 days — is held by Russian Gennady Padalka. Whitson broke the NASA cumulative record set last year by astronaut Jeffrey Williams; Scott Kelly holds the U.S. record for consecutive days in space — 340.

Whitson is also the first woman to command the space station twice and the only woman to have led NASA's astronaut corps. Behind her was a banner that read: "Congrats Peggy!! New U.S. High-Time Space Ninja." The sign arrived Saturday on the commercial cargo ship, the S.S. John Glenn — barely in time for Monday's celebration.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, who arrived at the space station last week and took part in Monday's call, said the space station is "by far the best example of international cooperation."

Whitson told the president that spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting to Mars will require collaboration from other countries to succeed. NASA is building the hardware right now to test a new rocket that will carry astronauts farther from Earth than ever before, she said.

"Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?" Trump replied.

"We'll do our best," Whitson replied.

The debut of the mega rocket is still more than a year away — at least. The date will depend on whether astronauts are on board for the test flight, which could hoist the new Orion capsule to the vicinity of the moon.

Both Whitson and Fischer raised a hand when Trump asked which one of them was ready to go to Mars.

Joining Trump in the Oval Office was astronaut Kate Rubins, who last summer became the first person in space to perform entire DNA decoding, or sequencing. She said she used a device the size of a cellphone for the job, and noted that such sequencing can detect microbes aboard spacecraft and monitor astronaut health.

"That's fantastic," Trump said. "I've been dealing with politicians so much, I'm so much more impressed with these people, you have no idea."

Comments
Longtime Tampa Catholic athletic director Nick DiMaggio dies

Longtime Tampa Catholic athletic director Nick DiMaggio dies

Nick DiMaggio, the longtime athletic director at Tampa Catholic who was a fixture at the school's sporting events for more than 50 years, died Wednesday (July 18, 2018) from complications related to a stroke. He was 86."Nick was an icon, a walking en...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
A Florida mayor is being asked to resign after citizens allege his chief of staff ‘preys’ on homeless black men

A Florida mayor is being asked to resign after citizens allege his chief of staff ‘preys’ on homeless black men

ST. PETERSBURG — At Thursday’s City Council meeting, seven residents called for the resignation of Mayor Rick Kriseman and Kevin King — one of his closest confidants — over allegations that King "preys" on homeless black men.Jesse Nevel, the vice pre...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
St. Pete residents storm City Council with allegations against Kevin King

St. Pete residents storm City Council with allegations against Kevin King

ST. PETERSBURG — At Thursday’s City Council meeting, seven residents called for the resignation of Mayor Rick Kriseman and Kevin King — one of his closest confidants — over allegations that King "preys" on homeless black men.Jesse Nevel, the vice pre...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Chickens remain free to range in Ybor

Chickens remain free to range in Ybor

TAMPA — Ybor City chickens have escaped the political chopping block — again.The Tampa City Council on Thursday declined to do anything about a wild flock of poultry that drew a loud, strong throng of supporters to City Hall to ask council members no...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Activists camp out in protest at Tampa’s Homeland Security, ICE offices

Activists camp out in protest at Tampa’s Homeland Security, ICE offices

TAMPA — The national movement to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency came to Tampa on Thursday night — and it’s in tents.Approximately 25 local activists gathered next to Cypress Drive in front of the local Department of Homeland S...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Marc Topkin: Rays should trade Chris Archer

Marc Topkin: Rays should trade Chris Archer

ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer wants the Rays to get going.Trade more veterans. Bring back Willy Adames and bring up the next group of kids. Get on with getting better, and get back to reaching the postseason, as they did four times over six yea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida State defensive forecast not that simple

Florida State defensive forecast not that simple

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — His debut at the ACC kickoff attracted a wholly unsurprising assortment of topics. New FSU coach Willie Taggart was asked about his culture, his quarterbacks, his catch phrases.He handled each question deftly, hardly devi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Catcher needed with Wilson Ramos on DL

Rays journal: Catcher needed with Wilson Ramos on DL

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays did not have any answers Thursday about the state of their catching situation as to how long Wilson Ramos will be out and who will be added to replace him Friday against the Marlins.Ramos was placed on the DL Wednesday...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police: Pinellas infant on life support after father stuffs balled-up baby wipe down his throat

Police: Pinellas infant on life support after father stuffs balled-up baby wipe down his throat

TARPON SPRINGS — Cali’yah Anderson heard a scream Tuesday night and she thought someone was dying. "Help me! Help me! I can’t get it out!" Anderson sprinted into the living room at 1410 Starlight Cove two doors down from her own apartment and found a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Dive outing among friends turns deadly Wednesday evening in Weeki Wachee

Dive outing among friends turns deadly Wednesday evening in Weeki Wachee

WEEKI WACHEEIt was the first time Said Marjane and his friends had gone free diving near the Eagle’s Nest, in a pool of water in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area in Weeki Wachee better known as the entrance to a dangerous cave-diving site....
Updated: 2 hours ago