(Radio Iowa) Iowa-born astronaut Peggy Whitson is being featured in a national interview with Norah O’Donnell on the CBS program “Person to Person.” The Beaconsfield native reflected on her recent space flight, the fourth in her long career. In May, Whitson led a crew to the International Space Station as part of the private Axiom 2 mission. Whitson says the toughest part about the flight was readjusting to Earth’s gravity after the 10-day mission was over. She says it’s similar to what some astronauts experience while in orbit.
“Some people, when they go into space, and they’re floating all of a sudden, it’s like being in a swimming pool of air,” Whitson says. “You’re floating, and it doesn’t take anything to move around. That makes some people nauseous, or feel what we call Space Adaptation Syndrome — a very technical term for making you not feel very good, initially.” Whitson retired from NASA in 2018 and joined Axiom, which plans to build a commercial space station beginning as early as 2025. Whitson says Axiom’s missions mark a change, as private, commercial entities take the lead from governments in space efforts.
“Commercial entities have always existed, but now, they are providing some of the leadership and taking ownership of getting satellites to orbit, or people to orbit,” Whitson says. “Axiom Space’s vision is to enable the replacement for the International Space Station. As you know, it’s been up there over 20 years now, and they’re planning to retire it. We plan to step in and hopefully, seamlessly, continue a space station program.” One of Axiom’s goals is to increase access to space for all countries, scientists and universities. Additionally, Whitson hopes the company will expand on some of the medical experiments that were conducted during her latest mission, including cancer research.
“We were looking at potential ways to treat different types of cancer,” Whitson says. “We had colorectal cancer and breast cancers. We really feel like those research objectives are going to help develop medical therapies here on the ground. We’re very excited to hear about the details of the research.” With her latest flight, Whitson increased her U.S. record for most time spent in space — to 675 days. There’s a link to the CBS interview at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4GRIRZ1Hyo&t=683s
(Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)