I think my favorite thing about being an astronaut is being a part of something so much bigger than just me I was born and raised on a farm in Iowa so grew up in a very rural environment when I was nine years old I saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon wasn’t until I graduated from high school that they selected the first female astronauts and so for me that’s when it became a transition from being a dream to a goal and I joined NASA in 1986 I applied for 10 years after I got my PhD to become an astronaut before I was lucky enough to be selected my most recent expedition actually ran over nine and a half months very special to get to spend some extra time onboard the International Space Station it’s an amazing laboratory where we conduct many different scientific experiments I also got to do four more spacewalks nothing really beats going for a walk out in space going on a spacewalk is really special because you’re in a spacesuit is basically like a little spaceship built for one person it’s protecting me thermally and pressure-wise from the vacuum of space but what’s most amazing about the spacewalk is the view remember we’re going at 17,500 miles an hour 16 times around the planet every day so we’re seeing a sunrise and a sunset about every 45 minutes as we go into the Eclipse and come out into the Sun first you see what we call the limb of the earth and it’s just this thin blue curve of line just as the light of the Sun is starting to come around the planet and so alien to everything that we’ve grown up with here on earth everything is based on gravity everything and when you get up there it’s not anymore and I just enjoyed the entire nine and a half months a day in space starts off by waking up then usually I’d go an exercise we exercise about two and a half hours a day and that’s in order to maintain our muscle strength on orbit we have a tendency to lose both of those if we don’t exercise and the day could be anything we could be doing scientific research I could be fixing the toilet Friday nights we had a little tradition where we do dinner in a movie everybody was kind of into science theme so we watched passengers and life lots of science fiction movies that is one of the really special things about working in space is that every day is a little bit different but I think a long-duration spaceflight what’s very special about it is it it becomes home you you adapt to being in zero gravity being able to move around so easily is a real treat and once you adapt to that it’s it’s hard to give it up to come back to earth because gravity really does suck during my first and second missions there were numerous women that came up to meet me onboard the space station and in fact when I was the female commander of the International Space Station Pam Melroy was commanding the shuttle that docked to the space station so that was very special to have two women commanders on orbit at the same time I wasn’t the first female that happened to fly in space and I’ve had lots of role models along the way to help and guide me and most importantly make me believe it’s possible being able to inspire even one or two children to do something they didn’t think they could do I would consider that a big win for me

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