Astronaut Hilary Clinton? Secretary of State Talks Spaceflight & Amelia Earhart
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
When the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton spoke at a recent celebration of aviator Amelia Earhart, she revealed something few people know — that she dreamed of becoming the first female astronaut in space.
A young Hilary even went so far as to send a letter to NASA stating her lofty ambitions:
. . . when I was about 13, I wrote to NASA and asked what I needed to do to try to be an astronaut. And of course, there weren’t any women astronauts, and NASA wrote me back and said there would not be any women astronauts. And I was just crestfallen. But then I realized I couldn’t see very well, and I wasn’t all that athletic, so probably – (laughter) — I wouldn’t be the first woman astronaut anyway.
We know how the story went from here; Hilary went on to pursue political aspirations and women began travelling to space in the early sixties. Actually, it was on June 16, 1963, when Russia’s Valentina Tereshkova launched her three-day journey out of our atmosphere. (Interestingly, Tereshkova was born March 3, 1937, less than a month before Earhart’s flight.)
Though NASA didn’t know it at the time, it was aviators like Earhart who would pave the way for contemporary female astronauts such as Tereshkova and Canada’s Julie Payette.
This week, Ms. Clinton championed a renewed commitment to finding the remains of the aircraft that launched Amelia on her journey. It was back in 1937 when Amelia began her unlikely trip around the world, and this summer — 75 years later — researchers plan to uncover Earhart’s aircraft near the Pacific nation of Kiribati. The expedition will be filmed as a documentary by the Discovery Channel, and researchers are already displaying confidence that they’ll find exactly what they’re looking for.
Earhart, as Clinton describes, was a leader who broke limits, both social and gravitational. “NASA may have said I couldn’t go into space, but nobody was there to tell Amelia Earhart she couldn’t do what she chose . . . ,” says Clinton.
Much like our astronauts of today, Earhart was a symbol of hope, change, and possibility.
by Theras Wood