Iowa’s first woman in space says her first two months in orbit have gone wonderfully. Astronaut Peggy Whitson, a Mount Ayr native, says she’s seeing progress on two-dozen experiments she’s running aboard the International Space Station. In an interview from orbit, Whitson says one experiment involves soybeans, and it’s the first time soybeans have been tested.Soybeans may someday be a big part of an astronaut’s diet on the space station and on long trips to other planets. These particular beans were from seeds developed at Pioneer Hi-bred International, based in Johnston. Whitson says she’d love to sink her teeth into a good ear of Iowa corn. She says she’s talked to her family who rub in the fact they’re eating good sweet corn. She says she also misses the peas from her mom’s garden.Whitson grew up on a Ringgold County farm. Her parents and several relatives still live in Iowa and her husband lives in Texas. She says she does get to communicate with all of them fairly frequently.An engine problem has grounded the entire shuttle fleet, so Whitson isn’t coming home anytime soon — though she’s not bothered. She says she was prepared for that before launch, as there’s always a chance for delays.The Iowa Wesleyan College grad is expected to return to earth later this year, perhaps in October or November.
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