contact with the Euro Space Center, Belgium - August 7, 2002
A spacetalk with astronaut Peggy Whitson
1. Do you think we should voyage to different planets ?
It is very important for us to go even farther than we have and so, yes, I think it is very important for us to go to others planets.
2. Is it scary to go to space ?
I have dreamed to go into space for so long that I was really only excited about going into space. So no, it was not scary for me. I really wanted to be here.
3. What's it like in space ?
Well I think the thing that is most unique about being here is that we are in zero gravity, so we float. And everything we do is different and so we must hang on, find different ways to position our body. Even to stay here and talk to you requires that I position my body specifically for this. So getting used to that takes a little bit of time, but it is so much great fun.
4. How long did you train before you became an astronaut ?
Well I went to college and then after college I went to graduate school. Then I started working for NASA and after ten years I was selected as an astronaut. I was in the astronaut programme for six years, 1 1/2 doing general training and for 2 1/2 of those years I was selected and training specifically for this flight.
5. What is your favorite planet ?
From this vantage point, the earth is incredibly beautiful. So, I say the earth.
6. What made you want to be an astronaut ?
When I was nine years old I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon and I thought that would be a very special job to be able to be an astronaut. So, when I graduated from highschool, they selected the first female astronauts and that became my goal, to become an astronaut.
7. How did you get chosen for the ISS ?
I think probably it helped that I had some Russian background, I worked in Russia for several years, and then also that I had a science background so that I can conduct scientific experiments on board.
8. Do you feel comfortable about going with people you don't know to the space station ?
Luckily, I trained with my crew for 2 1/2 years before our flight, so I felt very comfortable coming up here with Valery and Sergey, both Russian cosmonauts.
9. How many G's can you pull ?
I'm sure I can't hold as many G's as some of the military fighter pilots. The Space Shuttle always gets up to 3 G's during the launch, which isn't that much, but it is sustained during several minutes. So it was a very interesting feeling. Thought like someone was sitting on my chest, during the final phases of launch, but it was really only 3 G's.
10. Is it obvious when looking at the earth, to see the earth spinning ?
It's very hard to say that we see the earth spinning. We are flying at 17.500 miles an hour. It's a combination of us moving over the earth and the earth spinning below us. The apparent speed is such that you can actually see countries move by very quickly.
11. How does the space station move around in space ?
Occasionnally we have to do a maneuver called a reboost and to do that we either use a Soyouz or a Progress, which are two Russian vehicles, or we can use the Shuttle to reboost us to a higher altitude and we have done so last week.