The Right Stuff

It's not their first time in space.

But this is a first. The embrace of two women in charge - one commanding the space station, and the other, the space shuttle - at the same time.

No jokes about who's driving, please. They've both earned this ride, CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports.

"Discovery, Houston, go at throttle up," the crew heard. And shuttle commander Pam Melroy replied, "copy, go at throttle up."

Melroy is a former Air Force test pilot, who flew combat missions in Iraq, and she's a working mom.

Peggy Whitson is a Russian-speaking biochemist, married to a NASA scientist. She flew in the Soyuz, for a mission that's the crowning achievement of her career.

"It took me 10 years of applying before I was ever even asked even for an interview to become an astronaut," she said.

This renowned space jock, who can out leg-press the guys, quickly impressed the Russians.

Pre-launch, they gave her a whip as a symbol of her authority.

"To remember that you are the boss," the Russians told her.

In space, there's no argument from her crew.

Does that say something about her command style?

"I don't think I'll ever have to use a whip on them," she said from space.

Shuttle commander Melroy brings that Apollo-era sense of wonder back to space flight.

She asked Dozier if she'd like to be her co-pilot in a test flight. Of course, Dozier agreed.

She describes the first time she took the controls.

"I was totally blessed out," Melroy said. "Actually I was just like, yes, I'm flying the shuttle."

Melroy's team is delivering a new space station module - one of three that Whitson and the Russians will attach during their six-month stay. There is no margin for error.

So she has to get the element delivered perfectly, unbroken and on time for the rest of the space station to go ahead.

"No pressure," Melroy jokes. "Yes."

Melroy and Whitson do not like to be called heroes - but they don't mind leading by example.

"People can look at me and say, well, if she can do it I think I can do it," Melroy said.

They say they're just ordinary women, who reached extraordinary heights, by never giving up.