When you’re living on a space station 220 miles above the Earth, sometimes communication can be a challenge, especially if Mission Control is speaking in Russian. Iowa-born astronaut Peggy Whitson says she continues to hone her foreign language skills during her second assignment aboard the International Space Station.
Whitson says: “I definitely have gotten better in my Russian but I still am not what I would consider as fluent as I would like to be. I think the language for me has been one of the biggest challenges of preparing for the flight.” Whitson lifted off earlier this month from Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz rocket with crewmates from Russia and Malaysia.
Whitson, a 47-year-old from Beaconsfield, will be taking over as the first woman commander of the space station for the six-month mission. In an interview with Radio Iowa from the station, Whitson says the upcoming change-of-command ceremony will be a no-frills affair.
She says she’s into simple, short and sweet. There’ll be discussion of the previous mission, the upcoming mission and the change-over of command, “I don’t think it’ll be too dramatic or involved.” It’s just one of a long line of firsts for Whitson. She is the first Iowa woman in space. She became the space station’s first Science Officer during her assignment there in 2002. She’s the first astronaut assigned to a second mission aboard the station. She’ll become the first woman station commander. And during this mission, she’ll set a record for longest time any woman has been in space — at just about a year.