06/19/2012 03:23 pm ET Updated Aug 19, 2012

Women in Space: Space for Women

This past weekend, China sent its first woman into space. When reading about Liu Yang's trip I was touched by what Mae Jemison -- the first African-American female astronaut -- had to say. She grew up during NASA's Apollo era of space travel, and as a child, was irritated by the lack of women involved who could have been role models for her.

If I had seen someone like me involved in NASA when I was a little girl, it would have given me a great big grin and made things a whole lot easier when I was starting out... It's not just that you can see yourself in that position, but also the fact that then other people understand that there is a wide range of talent to draw from.

Jemison on why including women is a no-brainer:

China has tremendous talent and resources, but if you don't bring all your best players in, you're not going to have the best opportunities to understand how things can be better, and how to make stuff happen more effectively. I'm very excited that women will be included on this flight.

Jemison served aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in September 1992 and has certainly been a role model for many young girls and women here in the United States.

But then something else struck me. America has killed the space program! And China is now following in our footsteps -- and perhaps will advance far beyond -- so where does that leave us?