Astronaut Peggy Whitson recently returned from another record-breaking tour as the commander of the International Space Station.  Whitson holds a number of gender based records, like being the first woman ever to be in command of the ISS, and then the first woman ever to do it TWICE, but Whitson’s most important records don’t have anything to do with being a male or female.  Whitson, for instance, has now spent more time in space than any other American in history.  Whitson is the most experienced astronaut our nation has ever fielded, but she’s not content with that.  Although she’s not currently slated for another trip into orbit, she continues to work for NASA in support roles and hasn’t ruled out another adventure among the stars.

Recently, Whitson was asked by CBS to pen an open letter to her younger self, a task Whitson took to as a means to share some of her incredible experiences and the wisdom she’s picked up along the way.

Expedition 48/49 (Soyuz 47) crew members Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi with Soyuz 49 crew member Peggy Whitson during ISS EVA P/P 1 training.

First, she touched on the importance of heroes in making the unbelievable seem real; she talked about two in particular that motivated her early aspirations to be an astronaut.

You just watched on TV as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first steps on the moon. Although at the time, it was an unbelievable moment in history, seeing it with your own eyes made it real and believable and achievable. It made you feel small, but filled you with excitement. That moment in time planted a seed of inspiration in you. Now, it’s up to you to nourish that seed and grow it into more than just a dream.”