NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson making history

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They call it 'the Peggy Factor.? (WPVI)

They call it 'the Peggy Factor.'

It is Mission Control's code word for the way superstar astronaut Peggy Whitson always get the job done.

Commander Whitson is making history with her record for any American.

By the time she lands in September, her tally will be 666 days in space with more spacewalks - currently 8 - than any other female astronaut.

She says what matters is the mission.

"I'm not here because of the record. But I think having the record is important because we have to continue to progress, we have to continue to take the next steps," Whitson said.

Whitson is perhaps a surprising interstellar star.

At nine, growing up on a farm in Iowa, she watched the moon landing and her dream was born.

"At the time, young girls weren't supposed to do those kinds of things," Whitson said.

She persevered, earning a PhD in biochem and landing a job with NASA. Then overcoming the long odds. It was ten years before NASA decided she had the right stuff to become an astronaut.

Her favorite thing about being in space is simply seeing the earth - from North Africa's reds to the Caribbean blues - from so far away.

"We need to do more to be one earth, one people," Whitson said.

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