Chicks Rule Space Tour 2007

A first in space: Women commanding shuttle and space station simultaneously.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:20 AM

Oct. 24, 2007 — -- It is really just an accident that two women are in command of the space shuttle and the space station at the same time, which is a historic first in space.

Peggy Whitson is a lithe, brainy blond who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the space station, with a penchant for really cute shoes, who by all accounts is the perfect person for the job of commander of the International Space Station. This is her second trip to space; she spent six months on the space station in 2002.

Pam Melroy, the commander of Discovery STS 120, has flown as a shuttle pilot on missions in 2000 and 2002. She has the personality of the girl next door, who also happens to be a highly decorated Air Force pilot who flew in Desert Storm. She loves to dance and watch funny movies with her circle of friends, dubbed the Tank Girls Film Society.

She said she told everyone she met in high school that she was going to be an astronaut. "It was like, 'Hi my name is Pam Melroy and I am going to be an astronaut,' and I think it was all like one word: 'iampammelroy- andiamgoingtobeanastronaut.'"

The two women are a public relations dream team for NASA. But Whitson insists the timing of this historic first is pure happenstance.

"It's really just coincidence that this is happening at this point in time. But I do think it is meaningful in the sense that it is the first time it happened, but it just is an indication of where we are heading and where we are going in the future. The significance, I would hope, isn't something that is overdramatized."

Melroy insists to focus on the two of them would be to miss the point. This, she says, is not about us.

"That's what we mean when we say it is just a coincidence. We are very lucky. We are very blessed to have born in the years we were born, and have the doors open ahead of us so we could walk through them at the right time. It isn't about us. It's more about our culture and society and the fact that this is just where we have headed and this is where we are now, and this is neat."