NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has advised young students to focus on maths, science, and engineering as the U.S. needs more astronauts to carry out future space missions.
On Tuesday, Peggy Whitson was at the Madison Elementary School in Wheeling, West Virginia, to participate in the “West Virginia Girls Rise Up” program that was started by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito in 2015 to inspire young girls to become state leaders and to convince them that they can achieve their goals if they work hard in their lives.
“We need astronauts, so we need everybody to study math, science, and engineering and make all kinds of cool technology things for us,” Whitson told the girl students at the school, according to the Intelligencer.
Whitson was joined by Shelley Capito at the event. They both visited different classrooms in the school and took questions from the girl students. It was a girls-only event at Madison Elementary, and all the boys had their regular classrooms on Tuesday.
When one student asked Whitson whether she had ever been to Mars, she responded by saying, “I have never been to Mars, but maybe one of you guys can do it and learn.”
Whitson told girls that she has never seen aliens, but she believes humans might find some in the near future. She said it is not necessary that those aliens would appear like humans.
According to WTRF, Peggy Whitson revealed that she was inspired to become an astronaut after seeing the first females being selected by the American space agency for its astronaut program. This was the time when Whitson had just graduated high school.
Whitson told students that she had been to the International Space Station (ISS) three times. Her first space trip happened in 2002. During her second space mission in 2008, she served as the commander of the ISS. Her third space journey commenced on November 17, 2016, and lasted for 288 days. She returned to the Earth on September 3, 2017. In total, she spent 665 days in space, a record for any U.S. astronaut. She also made 10 spacewalks during her three stays onboard the ISS.
At the event, Senator Shelley Capito described education, physical education, and self-confidence as the three pillars of success. She told girls that there were just 11 women among the 535 members of Congress in 1970, but today, there are a total of 107 women in Congress—84 in the House and 23 in the Senate.