Dr. Peggy Whitson, Astronaut
By C. K. Thomas
Remember her and her historic accomplishment: on April 24, 2017, Peggy Whitson set a more than 534-day record for the most days ever spent in space by a NASA astronaut! It’s also worth noting that Whitson holds records for the oldest woman spacewalker, eight space walks, and being the first woman astronaut to command the International Space Station twice.
Her career titles include Biochemistry Researcher, Ph.D., NASA Astronaut, and former NASA Chief Astronaut.
Most of us are familiar with Neil Armstrong (1930-2012), Gus Grissom (1926-1967), Alan Shepard (1923-1998), John Glenn (1921-2016), Judith Resnik (1949-1986), Christa McAulifee (1948-1986), Patricia Robertson (1963-2001), and Sally Ride (1951-2012) among many other U.S. “space heroes.”
But, how many of us had our “heads in the sand,” rendering Whitson a complete surprise when her recent Space-Station-days-in-space record hit the nightly news reports? Guilty!
Three times, Whitson earned NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal, and in 2006 she earned NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal. From the Russian government she earned the Medal for Merit in Space Exploration for her role in developing international cooperation in space flight.
This Iowa farm girl decided at age 9 that she wanted to be an astronaut after watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren walking on the moon. He dream came true at age 38 when she blasted off for the International Space Station on her first space mission in 2002 as Flight Engineer on the shuttle Endeavor. Her second trip to the Station came in 2007, as Expedition 17 Mission Commander.
I have a saying, “Take a chance. Amaze yourself.” I think Peggy Whitson will keep on amazing a lot of us, if not her own self. It seems, from what I’ve read of her, that she knew quite early exactly where she would aim her future. Bravo, Peggy Whitson!
Learn more about this extraordinary woman from these online resources:
C.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.