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First Woman Station Commander Arrives for HistoricSpaceflight


> Oct. 12, 2007
> John Yembrick
> Headquarters, Washington 
> 202-358-0602
> john.yembrick-1@nasa.gov
> Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters 
> Johnson Space Center, Houston
> 281-483-5111 
> nicole.cloutier-1@nasa.gov
> WASHINGTON - NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson arrived at the International 
> Space Station Friday to begin her tenure as the first woman to 
> command a station mission.
> Whitson, Soyuz Commander and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko and 
> Malaysian Spaceflight Participant Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor docked 
> their Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft to the station at 10:50 a.m. EDT. The 
> crew launched on Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 
> Kazakhstan. 
> Whitson officially will become the station commander after a ceremony 
> Friday, Oct. 19, at approximately 3:15 p.m. EDT. This change of 
> command event will mark the formal handover of the station to Whitson 
> and Malenchenko, just days before the Expedition 15 crew members and 
> Shukor depart.
> "I think it's special that I get the opportunity to play that role," 
> Whitson said when asked about being the first woman station 
> commander. "But I think it's also special to have an opportunity to 
> demonstrate how many other women also work at NASA."
> Another female astronaut, space shuttle Discovery Commander Pam 
> Melroy, will reach another milestone in late October when she and her 
> crew arrive at the station. It will mark the first time two women 
> have led space missions at the same time.
> To familiarize themselves with station systems and procedures, 
> Expedition 16's Whitson and Malenchenko will conduct more than a week 
> of handover activities with Expedition 15 Commander Fyodor 
> Yurchikhin, Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov and Expedition 15 and 16 
> Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson. Whitson and two other crew members 
> will perform three spacewalks during Expedition 16 to prepare the 
> station for the activation of the Harmony node. The Expedition 16 
> spacewalks also will prepare for the relocations of Harmony and 
> Pressurized Mating Adapter-2, a docking port.
> This is Whitson's second six-month rotation aboard the orbiting 
> complex. She previously served as a flight engineer on Expedition 5 
> in 2002, when she became NASA's first station science officer, 
> conducting 21 investigations in human and life sciences. During that 
> mission, she also used the station's robotic arm to help add two 
> truss segments to the station's backbone and performed a spacewalk to 
> install debris shielding. 
> Whitson was born and raised in Iowa, where at an early age she was 
> inspired by the men who walked on the moon. "I thought 'what a cool 
> job!"
> She decided she wanted to fly in space after graduating from high 
> school, which was the same year they picked the first set of female 
> astronauts. Whitson knew she wanted to work for NASA, if not as an 
> astronaut, then as a scientist.
> Whitson received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry 
> from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1981 and a doctorate in biochemistry 
> from Rice University in 1985. From 1989 to 1993, Whitson worked as a 
> research biochemist in the Biomedical Operations and Research Branch 
> at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. For the next several 
> years, she held a number of senior positions within NASA until her 
> selection as an astronaut in 1996.
> When Whitson returns home in April 2008, she will hold yet another 
> distinction, that of having spent more time in space than any other 
> woman. 
> For Whitson's biographical information, visit: 
> http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios 
> For information about NASA and agency programs, visit: 
> http://www.nasa.gov 
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