The Houston Chronicle has a nice profile of recently returned ISS astronaut Karen Nyberg and her family. They’re a bit unusual since Nyberg and her husband Doug Hurley are both astronauts, and their son Jack is three. Hurley was in quarantine for a shuttle mission when they learned Nyberg was pregnant in 2010. She started training for her six month stay on the International Space Station when Jack was only a few months old.
Needless to say, things are a little different when you’re the child of a NASA astronaut:
Nyberg was selected in July 2010 for the space station flight. Beginning a few months after Jack’s birth, she was on the road for two to six weeks at a time. Sometimes she took Jack to Russia–when Doug was in final preparations for the last shuttle flight–and sometimes he stayed home.
“Literally from the time Jack was old enough to comprehend things, he was either going to Russia or Skyping with mommy. That’s just the way it was,” Hurley said.
And it turns out that NASA got Jack a special iPad so that the family could video chat at least once a week.
Fundamentally, this is no different than what thousands of military families go through every day; it just feels more exotic because Dr. Nyberg went to space instead of Iraq or Afghanistan.
The article does a nice job of addressing the fact that it feels different for a mom to go into space instead of a dad (many NASA astronauts have had small children), but also highlighting the fundamental adaptability of children. The cutest photo in the whole piece is the cardboard space station that Jack and his mom built together. It’s also got some great pictures of some of the sewing and other craft projects that Dr. Nyberg created on the station.
Let’s hear it for moms in space!