There was a time when Whitson never imagined she’d be able to say those words. As a nine-year-old on a farm outside Beaconsfield, Iowa, she was spellbound by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong as they walked on the moon, but her dream of being up there with them only became a tangible goal in 1978, the year NASA accepted its first class of female astronauts. “Luckily I had no idea how hard it would be to get selected,” she says.