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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts and an international team of aviators landed here at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Thursday morning (July 11), after breaking multiple global flying records for circumnavigating Earth via the planet's poles. They made the historic flight, in part, to honor the 50th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moonshot.
The 25,000-mile (40,000 kilometers) mission, dubbed One More Orbit, touched down at KSC's historic Shuttle Landing Facility — the same runway used by NASA's fleet of space shuttles — at 8:12 a.m. EDT (1212 GMT), nearly 3 hours ahead of its planned arrival. The recorded flight time of 46 hours, 39 minutes and 38 seconds broke the previous record of just over 54 hours, which was set in 1977.
Officials - Fédération - Aéronautique - Internationale - World
Officials from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (World Air Sports Federation) and Guinness World Records were on-site at KSC Thursday to verify the records.
According to Virts and One More Orbit, the team unknowingly set a third record thanks to two of the eight passengers — film director Jannicke Mikkelsen and flight attendant Magdalena Starowicz, who became the first women to complete a polar circumnavigation of the world.
Flight - Space - Spoke - Virts - Mission
Following the historic flight, Space.com spoke with Virts about the mission.
The eight passengers boarded the Gulfstream G650ER Tuesday morning (July 9) and prepared to take off. The crew and cargo had been carefully weighed as each ounce of fuel was meticulously calculated and accounted for.
Action - Aviation - Chairman - Hamish - Harding
Led by Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding, the crew took off at 9:32 a.m. (1332 GMT) Tuesday, bound for the North Pole. Less than 48 hours later, they touched back down on the same Florida runway.
Virts described the flight as "long but fast." He explained that the total flight time was just under 48 hours, which sounds like a long time, but in reality, it...
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