Iowa-born astronaut Peggy Whitson, who returned to earth in December after six months in orbit, says all space travelers know and accept the risks of the dangerous journeys aloft. In an interview with Radio Iowa in April of 2002, before her mission to the International Space Station, Whitson said she was filled with emotion and wasn’t concerning herself with fear.She said there was more excitement than fear and she felt ready to go with all the training she’d had.Whitson is a native of Mount Ayr and -was- scheduled to begin three days of talks at southern Iowa schools today. NASA says those talks will be postponed due to the loss of Columbia. Shortly after Whitson returned to earth from the space station, she did another interview with Radio Iowa (on December 18, 2002) during which she talked about her desire to share her enthusiasm with school children, especially in rural Iowa farming communities.Whitson will turn 43 on Sunday. Burlington native Jim Kelly was scheduled to be the pilot of the next shuttle mission which had been scheduled for liftoff early in March. That launch of Atlantis is now on hold for what could be many months, perhaps even years. In his first adventure into space, astronaut Kelly piloted the shuttle Discovery to the space station in March of 2001. In a Radio Iowa interview on April 6th of 2001, Kelly told about how he’d set up the exercise bike on the shuttle’s flight deck and watched out the windows as half the earth went by in 45-minutes. The 39-year-old says he was very humbled by returning to Burlington, where it was declared “Jim Kelly Day” and he was inducted into his community’s Hall of Honor. Kelly is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. His wife, Dawn, is also from Burlington. They have four children.
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