The Iowa legislature honored accomplished native daughter and record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson with a joint House and Senate Resolution today.
Whitson is from Mount Ayr and grew up on a farm near Beaconsfield.
When she returned from her most recent mission last September, Whitson had spent over 289 days in orbit, and had cumulatively spent over 665 days during her three missions aboard the International Space Station, more time living and working in space than any other American or any woman worldwide.
“It's really a fantastic honor to be back here and have you guys honor me like this,” Whitson said in the Iowa House to sustained applause. “Very special.”
Whitson was inspired to be a space explorer at the age of nine watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin take their first steps on the moon.
Whitson said she never forgets her Iowa roots.
“Everyone's always asking me what made you successful and I would have to say learning the work ethic of a farmer was a key to that,” Whitson said. “My parents… hardest working people I know.”
Whitson received her bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1981 and her doctorate in biochemistry from Rice University in 1985.
After persistently applying for the astronaut program five times over the course of 10 years, Dr. Whitson was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996. She first flew into space on June 5, 2002, as a flight engineer for Expedition 5.
The resolution thanked Whitson for “inspiring both girls and boys, no matter the size of their hometown, to dream big, work hard, and reach for the (moon) and stars.”