Senate Resolution 117 - Introduced SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 117 BY COSTELLO A Resolution celebrating and recognizing the many 1 accomplishments of Dr. Peggy Whitson. 2 WHEREAS, Peggy Annette Whitson, who was born in 3 Mount Ayr, Iowa, and grew up on a family farm near 4 Beaconsfield, was initially inspired to be a space 5 explorer at the age of nine watching Neil Armstrong and 6 Buzz Aldrin take their first steps on the moon; and 7 WHEREAS, after raising and selling chickens as 8 a young girl to afford flying lessons and obtain 9 her private pilot’s license, she became even more 10 resolute in her determination to be an astronaut 11 when, in the same year she graduated from Mount Ayr 12 Community High School, the National Aeronautics and 13 Space Administration (NASA) accepted its first class 14 of female astronauts including Sally Ride, the first 15 American woman in space; and 16 WHEREAS, following high school, Dr. Whitson designed 17 her education goals to be consistent with working at 18 NASA, by receiving her bachelor of science degree 19 in biology and chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College 20 in 1981, and, declining advice to attend medical 21 school rather than follow her dream, by receiving her 22 doctorate in biochemistry from Rice University in 23 1985; and 24 WHEREAS, after receiving her PhD and completing a 25 fellowship, Dr. Whitson soon joined the NASA Johnson 26 Space Center as a National Research Council Resident 27 Research Associate, then as a Research Biochemist 28 -1- LSB 6198SS (1) 87 pf/rn 1/ 6
S.R. 117 in the Biomedical Operations and Research Branch, 1 and subsequently held a number of senior positions, 2 concurrently, including Project Scientist of the 3 Shuttle-Mir Program, Deputy Division Chief of the 4 Medical Sciences Division, and Co-Chair of the 5 U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group; and 6 WHEREAS, after applying for the astronaut program 7 five times over the course of 10 years, she was 8 selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996 attributing 9 her selection, in part, to both an extensive background 10 in science and cooperative work with Russian and other 11 international space colleagues; and 12 WHEREAS, Dr. Whitson first flew into space on June 13 5, 2002, as a flight engineer for Expedition 5, docking 14 at the International Space Station on June 7, 2002; and 15 WHEREAS, during her over 184 days in space with that 16 mission, she was named the first NASA Science Officer, 17 conducted 21 investigations in human life sciences and 18 microgravity sciences as well as commercial payloads, 19 grew the first crop of soybeans in space, and performed 20 a more-than four-hour spacewalk, before returning to 21 Earth with her two Russian cosmonaut colleagues on 22 December 7, 2002; and 23 WHEREAS, Dr. Whitson subsequently was a member of 24 the Expedition 16 crew that launched from Kazakhstan 25 on October 10, 2007, and included a Russian cosmonaut 26 and a Malaysian spaceflight participant, docked at the 27 International Space Station on October 12, 2007, and 28 returned to Earth after 192 days in space on April 19, 29 2008; and 30 -2- LSB 6198SS (1) 87 pf/rn 2/ 6
S.R. 117 WHEREAS, during that mission, Dr. Whitson was 1 Station Commander, supervised the most complex 2 expansion of the station’s living and working space 3 in more than six years, performed five spacewalks 4 to conduct assembly and maintenance tasks, and 5 welcomed rotating crew members through several shuttle 6 flights; and 7 WHEREAS, Dr. Whitson most recently launched on 8 November 17, 2016, as part of Expedition 50/51/52 9 and returned safely to Earth on September 3, 2017, 10 during which mission Dr. Whitson contributed to 11 hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, 12 physical science, and Earth science, welcomed 13 several cargo spacecraft, grew and harvested Chinese 14 cabbage, and conducted six, and participated in four, 15 spacewalks; and 16 WHEREAS, when Dr. Whitson’s most recent mission 17 ended in September 2017, she had spent over 289 days in 18 orbit, more than any other female astronaut in a single 19 space flight; and 20 WHEREAS, Dr. Whitson has spent more time living and 21 working in space cumulatively than any other American 22 or any woman worldwide, spending over 665 days over 23 three different missions aboard the International Space 24 Station earning her the nickname “Space Ninja” and the 25 Twitter handle “@AstroPeggy”; and 26 WHEREAS, Dr. Whitson has broken many other barriers 27 and set many other records including completing 10 28 spacewalks and logging 60 hours and 21 minutes walking 29 in space, more than any other woman in the world; 30 -3- LSB 6198SS (1) 87 pf/rn 3/ 6
S.R. 117 being the first woman and nonmilitary Chief of the 1 Astronaut Office; being the first woman to command the 2 International Space Station, and the only woman to do 3 so twice; and being the oldest woman in space and the 4 oldest woman spacewalker (not a goal she was shooting 5 for, she says); and 6 WHEREAS, even though Dr. Whitson has been a leader 7 and a trailblazer and has earned accolades throughout 8 her lifetime too numerous to mention, she remains true 9 to her Iowa roots, having taken her Mount Ayr Community 10 High School t-shirt with her on her first space flight 11 and having acknowledged that “My work ethic is, I 12 think, from my farm life. My parents are the hardest 13 working people I ever knew, they always worked every 14 day, all day, they had to come up with the solutions 15 to make things work. And I think that work ethic, 16 maybe stubbornness, single-mindedness, definitely 17 played a role for me. I’m definitely thankful for my 18 roots.”; and 19 WHEREAS, those Iowa roots, Iowa stubbornness, and 20 the things her parents, Keith and Beth Whitson, taught 21 her, that you can do whatever you set your mind to and 22 that there is nothing No. 2 wire, pliers, and a healthy 23 attitude cannot repair —— especially when a solar array 24 rips on the International Space Station and all you 25 have on hand is a makeshift bit of sheet metal —— have 26 served her well; and 27 WHEREAS, for all of her time in space, Dr. Whitson 28 remains down-to-earth and reluctant to be called a role 29 model, describing her bio simply as: Peggy Whitson: 30 -4- LSB 6198SS (1) 87 pf/rn 4/ 6
S.R. 117 Astronaut; and 1 WHEREAS, this ability to stay grounded and to 2 appreciate the important things in life is evidenced by 3 the fact that, being married since 1989 to her husband 4 Dr. Clarence F. Sams, a NASA biochemist and director 5 of the Cell and Molecular Research Laboratory, she has 6 chosen always to take into space her most important 7 personal possession, her wedding ring, and by her 8 acknowledgment that the two things that beckon her back 9 to earth are real (not freeze-dried) pizza and her 10 husband (in that order); and 11 WHEREAS, whether Dr. Whitson participates in another 12 space flight in the future, her enduring legacy, 13 especially for women, is best described by other 14 female astronauts as one of having removed gender from 15 the conversation so that female astronauts are just 16 expected to perform like everyone else and as having 17 opened the door for people to realize that women can 18 lead, make critical decisions, and take command; and 19 WHEREAS, when named one of Glamour’s Women of the 20 Year in 2017, Dr. Whitson encouraged the girls and 21 young women in the audience from the Lower East Side 22 Girls Club and other nonprofit groups to achieve their 23 dreams with these words: “...number one, find your 24 passion, because with that passion you can do anything. 25 And number two, work for it. Make it happen. It’s not 26 going to get handed to you... And number three, you 27 need to live a little bit outside your comfort zone, 28 because you can be even more than you dream of.”; and 29 WHEREAS, Dr. Whitson was featured on the March 2018 30 -5- LSB 6198SS (1) 87 pf/rn 5/ 6
S.R. 117 cover of National Geographic magazine and will be 1 presented with the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character 2 Award on April 13, 2018, an award recognizing a person 3 who demonstrates good character as a role model and 4 commitment to civility and character development; NOW 5 THEREFORE, 6 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE, That the Senate 7 congratulates Dr. Peggy Whitson on her remarkable 8 lifetime of accomplishments; commends Dr. Whitson for 9 her outstanding contributions to the development of 10 international cooperation and for exemplifying that 11 successful endeavors require the teamwork of those 12 with diverse skills and backgrounds and relationships 13 built on mutual trust and respect, whether on the 14 International Space Station or on Earth; and thanks Dr. 15 Whitson for steadfastly promoting interest in STEM and 16 inspiring both girls and boys, no matter the size of 17 their hometown, to dream big, work hard, and reach for 18 the (moon and) stars. 19 -6- LSB 6198SS (1) 87 pf/rn 6/ 6