May We Never Stop Reaching For The Stars
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May We Never Stop Reaching For The Stars

The oldest, most experienced female astronaut inspires others to follow their heart and shoot for the stars.

May We Never Stop Reaching For The Stars

Going to space is a feat in itself, but for Peggy Whitson it's just another day at the office. Whitson, the first female space commander, is now the oldest -57 years young- and most experienced woman to see space. In fact, she has now spent over 500 days in orbit -more than any woman. Another record broken, Whitson has become the first woman to spend 59 hours accumulated spacewalking, crushing the record of 50 hours and 40 minutes and becoming the third most experienced spacewalker in history. Working on docking ports for new commercial crew capsules sponsored by SpaceX and Boeing, Peggy has become the ultimate spacewoman.

Whitson grew up in rural farmland Iowa. She took interest in flying and biology and soon raised chickens to pay for her pilot's license. She has a bachelors, masters, and doctorate all related to biology, biochemistry, and biomedicine. She is an avid gardener and nature girl. But most importantly, while Peggy had these big dreams growing up, she never imagined they would lead her into space.

Peggy is an incredible example of someone reaching for the stars. Sadly, these days, those dreaming of one-day completing missions to space are far and few. Not many kids today are growing up wanting to go into fields that may lead them to space but this is also in part due to lowered funding of space programming. NASA and space missions account for about 0.5% of the government's budget. Since the "Space Race" of the 1960's and 70's, the funding of NASA has been gradually been reduced year after year. And while there has been more cost effective technology developed, we also have to consider the fact that, sadly, robots are cheaper. Unmanned missions are more cost effective, but this should never stop our's and future generation's dreams of becoming astronauts.

Recently, I visited the California Science Center in Los Angeles for the first time. The center has multiple exhibits dedicated to space travel and research, and not to mention, the Space Shuttle Endeavor, a retired orbiter of 25 missions to space. And the vessel that took Peggy Whitson on her first mission in 2002. The size alone of the shuttle was incredible, but knowing its history and purpose was incredibly important. From its start, children have been attached to the Endeavor, beginning with naming it from a nationwide competition of elementary and secondary schools. The orbiter stands as a symbol to those that once dreamed and those that still do of going to space. I myself was taken back to memories of waking up in the early morning hours just to watch space shuttles take off on the news. Thinking and dreaming of one day touching the stars.

There is still those that dream. And I call those dreamers to action: reach for the stars, shoot for the moon. Go after those dreams, that's what Peggy did, and look where it landed her. Tell your children about your dreams, encourage them to do the same. And as the old quote by Norman Vincent Peale goes, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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