Female astronaut raised in Bay Area pilots SpaceX crew to space station

Bay Area

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KRON) – A female astronaut raised here in the Bay Area is piloting the SpaceX crew Dragon spacecraft that launched from Florida early Friday morning headed for the International Space Station.

It’s a historic first use of a recycled rocket and capsule.

KRON4’s Maureen Kelly talked with Megan McArthur’s high school principal who flew across the country to watch her former student lift off.

As the spaceship blasted off into the predawn sky, the retired principal of Mountain View’s St. Francis High School watched her former student in person at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, as she left this planet.

“It was absolutely spectacular against the dark night,” Patty Tennant said.

Megan McArthur is one of two American astronauts on board. The other two come from France and Japan. 

All four headed for the International Space Station for a six month stint.  

McArthur is sitting in the same pilot’s chair as her husband Bob Behnken, who made the same journey in the same crew Dragon Capsule last year.

This time he will be the one to solo parent the couple’s 7-year-old son while his wife is away. 

Patty Tennant says it’s a little surreal watching the woman she met as a teenager ascend in such a dramatic fashion.

“She always knew she wanted to do this, she’s done it before but there’s still that sense of lack of reality that it was actually happening, indeed she was flying into space for six months, you know and breaking all boundaries and barriers as a woman and as a mother and just a human being,” Tennant said.

McArthur, who previously flew on a space shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope in 2009, spoke from inside the SpaceX capsule endeavor after Friday’s liftoff.

“I’m like a baby bird here, relearning how to move around in microgravity, it feels really good but it feels a little bit weird too,” McArthur said.

She’s been back to visit her alma mater to help inspire students. The current principal says McArthur’s career trajectory is giving their female students interested in science a boost.

“We have seen already a huge increase in the number of girls who have enrolled in our engineering courses in entrepreneurship design thinking looking at computer programming,” principal Katie Teekell said.

One woman’s journey off the planet helping to launch the dreams of girls around the world.

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