Living With Kids: Karen Nyberg

October 8, 2013

By Gabrielle.

This tour doesn’t exactly qualify for our Living With Kids series. Rather, I should probably title it Living Without Her Family And Missing Them Like Mad While She Is In Outer Space! Because Karen Nyberg is an astronaut. I know. Incredible, right? Just wait until you see her daily views from her windows.

(New York and south along the US East Coast)

I couldn’t resist her generous offer to show us around her out-of-this-world living space (A little sterile, but the view!), share some of her best coping tricks (Again, that view!), and maybe even inspire those of us with kids who routinely travel as part of our careers. (A two-hour plane ride and three days at a Hilton doesn’t sound quite so unbearable when you compare it to a six-month expedition with a waiting husband and toddler son!)

She’ll tell us how she brings her family into the mission with her, how she prepared to climb aboard a rocket and leave her family, dog, and home for six months, and how she will satisfy her need to create something with her hands (She is a DIY girl and an astronaut!) and clear her mind with a good run while living on the space station.

Super inspiring. Friends, you are going to love this one. I promise.

Q: I think this is the first time I’ve described a home as “out there,” but it truly is!

A: I am currently living on the International Space Station about 250 miles above the surface of the earth. We orbit the earth every 90 minutes; that’s sixteen sunrises and sunsets every day! There are usually six crew-members living here at a time, and we exchange three crew-members approximately every three months.

I arrived on the Space Station via a Russian Soyuz rocket on May 29 with two others, and will be departing for home in the same capsule on November 11. Other residents of ISS at this time include one American astronaut (an US Air Force Flight Test Engineer), an Italian astronaut (an Air Force Test Pilot), and three Russian cosmonauts.

Our primary job while living on the Space Station, now that it is mostly built, is to conduct scientific research. We study everything from the behavior of fluids to improve the quality and efficiency of everyday household products, to looking at how diet can help mitigate bone loss. We also use resources to study changes on the earth and to look further into our universe. There are about 150 different experiments from investigators around the world active during any one six-month expedition here on the Space Station.

(US Laboratory)

Q: Your home away from home looks like something out of…well…a film about outer space!

A: The International Space Station is much larger than most people think, with an internal volume close to that of a five bedroom house.  We usually refer to the Space Station in two separate segments: the Russian segment and the US segment. The US segment includes laboratories from the United States, Japan, and Europe, and it is where I spend most of my time. It is composed of several modules which were all delivered to space on separate Space Shuttle missions over the past 15 years. (In 2008, I was on the Space Shuttle that delivered the Japanese Laboratory).

(Japanese Laboratory)

There are three modules we call Nodes that have been used to connect other modules together – think of Tinker Toys! – and most of our living space is in these Nodes. Node 1, the first of them to arrive in orbit, is where our pantry of food is located and where we join together to eat our meals. The back of the Node 1 leads to the Russian segment. On the starboard, or righthand, side of Node 1 is the airlock, which is where we go out of the space station in spacesuits to do work on hardware and equipment that is outside of the Space Station.

(Storage Attic)

Attached below Node 1 is the PMM, which we often call this the garage or attic, where we store supplies and spare equipment. To the Port, or left, side of Node 1 is Node 3. Node 3 is primarily our gym and our bathroom! We have a treadmill and a resistive exercise machine for keeping our muscles and bones strong for the return to earth.

(Gym)

Perhaps the best part of the entire ISS is attached to the bottom, earth-facing side of Node 3: the Cupola, made of seven windows with a 360 degree view of our earth!

(Cupola)

I spend a lot of time there taking pictures and just looking in awe. To the forward side of Node 1 is attached the US Laboratory. Our last piece of exercise equipment, a cycle ergometer, is in the Lab. Otherwise, it mostly contains racks of scientific equipment.

(Treadmill)

Forward of the US Laboratory is Node 2. This is where four of our sleep stations are located. Two others are located in the Russian segment to total room for six! Attached to the left side of Node 2 is the Japanese Laboratory, and the European Laboratory is to the right.

(European Laboratory)

The Space Station runs entirely on solar power from some beautiful, golden, very large solar arrays. Our air and water systems are closed-loop, meaning we generate oxygen, clean out carbon dioxide from the air, and turn air humidity and urine into usable water. The entire Space Station is an impressive piece of engineering!

Q: It’s all so high-tech! Do you miss your home and all of your things?

A: I do miss my home, very much so. I love to be at home with my family, my dog, my things. The Space Station is very lab-like and not very colorful, and certainly not pretty! I love flowers and usually have fresh flowers in the house. I miss that. I miss our yard, which my husband has turned into a wonderful oasis, with a pool surrounded by yellow flowers…my favorite.

(Sleep Stations)

We are allowed to bring a few items with us. To me, the most important is pictures of my husband and son and the three of us together. I have my husband’s wedding band on a necklace that I wear, along with a charm that has a “J” on it for my son. I have a couple small toys that my son likes. I keep all of these items in my sleep station, which is about the size of a phone booth, making it the most personal and homey place in the Space Station.

(Karen’s Sleep Station)

I also miss using a normal toilet!

Q: How do you deal with living in such a sterile, not-so-private environment?

A: During the workdays, we have video cameras turned on in almost all of the modules of the Space Station. The camera views are sent to the Mission Control Center in Houston and are broadcast on NASA TV and live on the internet. It can be a little intimidating at first when you realize you are being watched at work all day long! It is something we get used to, however, and almost forget they are there.

(Bathroom)

Evenings and weekends are more private, and the cameras are turned off. With Space Station the size it is, I’ve never felt crowded. And I always have the privacy and comfort of my sleep station if I feel I’d like some time alone.

(Dining Room)

Q: How is your family coping with you being away?

A: My husband, Doug Hurley, is a former Marine Corps F/A-18 pilot and also an astronaut. He flew on two Space Shuttle missions, including the final mission of the Space Shuttle in 2011 before it was retired. Both of his flights were to the Space Station, so he has been here and he knows exactly what it is like. I think that makes it a lot easier to communicate about what I’m experiencing.

We have a three-and-a-half year old son, Jack. He is very outgoing, talkative, inquisitive, perceptive, and funny – such an amazing little boy. We also have a ten year old dog named Charlie. Another person who has become a very important part of the family is our nanny, Lucy. Her love and special care for Jack has been vital during this period of time. They are keeping themselves busy while I’m gone, but I know they miss me and are eager for me to return.

Since I flew to ISS on a Russian vehicle, the final portion of my training was in Russia. I left the United States in April. My son traveled to Russia with me and was able to spend close to a month there with me. My husband joined us for a week and then took Jack home before I left Russia for Kazakhstan on May 15 two weeks before launch. I haven’t seen Jack since then. Doug came to the Baikonur Cosmodrome a few days prior to my launch, leaving Jack at home with grandparents. The last time I saw my husband was the day of my launch into space.

I will be returning to earth on November 11.

Q: How do you stay connected with them when you’re so far away?

A: We have an internet phone that allows us to call home almost any time of the day. We are constrained by space station communication antenna coverage, but I am able to talk to my husband every day, and sometimes more than once. We also have a family video conference set up by a support team at NASA one time per week, usually on Sundays. Since my son is so young, it is difficult to talk with him for any length of time on the phone, so the video conference is really the time to interact with him.

My husband sends me pictures and videos from home, and I have also been making a short video for Jack every single day that I e-mail to my husband. I show him weightless tricks, look out the window, sing him a song, talk about things we’ve done together, and always end it with an “I love you and miss you” and a blown kiss.

Jack spent a month this summer with his grandparents in upstate New York. There were a couple nights toward the middle of his stay when he wouldn’t let his grandma leave the room when she put him to bed. He cried and cried. Since he was a baby, he has always been very good about going to bed, so this was definitely unusual.

It broke my heart. I wanted nothing more than to go sit and rock with him. This happened for a few days until my husband was able to visit for a weekend. After Daddy put him to bed once, he never did that again.

(A corner of Jack’s room.)

Q: Do you ever get scared?

A: I don’t think one could be human and not get a little scared once in a while; it’s a natural reaction. There are certainly things that will get my heart rate elevated. I’ve had many moments of nervous anticipation throughout my career; moments when my heart feels like it could beat out of my chest. However, I’m generally more apt to react in situations when my performance has a direct impact on the outcome. My body reacts more to giving a speech in front of a crowd or during an interview than it did the two times I rode a rocket into space!

(Karen’s sewing space at home…)

Q: Did you do anything special to prepare your son for your time away? For those of us who travel – albeit not nearly as far as you! – your advice is appreciated.

A: In the two years prior to launching to space, I had traveled quite a bit. I often took my son and our nanny with me. The longest time I’d been away from him prior to now was five weeks. We talked a lot about what Mommy was doing and where Mommy was going. My goal was to try and never make it a negative thing that I would be gone, and to involve him as much as possible. He knew what the space station was and that there was no gravity there and that Mommy was going to live there. He met all of my crew-mates. We tried to simply make it all as comfortable and familiar as possible for him.

(…and at work!)

All over the world, when conditions are right and we are flying overhead, it is possible to see the Space Station as a very bright star moving across the sky. My husband will try to get outside every time he’s able to see it. We’ve been showing my son since he was a baby and telling him that it is where Mommy is going to live for a while. When my son looks up and sees it he yells “Hi, Mommy!”

Q: What has surprised you the most during this period you’re away from home? Both professional and personally as a mother and wife.

A: I have been very surprised at how quickly the days pass by here. When, at the same time, it feels like an eternity since I left my home and since I launched into space. When you’re given such a unique opportunity like this, and you’ve sacrificed time with your family to do it, you really want to make the most of it. I’ve been surprised to find that my free time on the evenings and weekends often seems to go faster than the busy work days.

My first priority while here has been to stay connected with my husband and son. I’ve also been trying to share this experience with others in the world the best I can through Twitter and Pinterest. I have a lot of other personal things I’d hoped to do while here and I find myself not having nearly the time to spend on them that I thought I would.

(Eastern Mediterranean Sea coast: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.)

Q: What do you look forward to the most on your return? How are you imagining it?

A: I daydream about being at home with my husband and son. I can almost smell the Saturday morning coffee that my husband has brewed, drifting into my bedroom. I can see us sitting in the morning sun in the kitchen talking about the week behind us and the day to come. I also daydream about sitting with my son on his bedroom floor, reading books, being silly, singing songs. I’m longing for the simple things and our daily routines. I miss that.

(Day turns to night at the terminator.)

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…

A: I wish someone had told me how difficult spaceflight is on the families of those flying. The aspect of a loved one being far from home for a significant length of time is difficult enough. But it can be considerably more unnerving for family when they think about the risks associated with riding a rocket into space, living in a place where, just outside a relatively thin metal wall, lies the harsh vacuum of space, and the only way home is a fiery trip through Earth’s atmosphere.

Having been on both sides – launching into space myself and twice watching my husband – I can say with most certainty that it is harder on the family watching than on the astronaut doing his or her job.

–-

Sixteen sunsets and sunrises a day. Karen, that is a lot of beauty to take in! Thank you so much for escorting us on this educational and unbelievable tour. I’m so proud of the sacrifice you’re making, and feel lucky to add you to my list of friends who inspire me with their talents and generosity. Can’t wait to hear news of your wonderful return home!

I have to be honest; I didn’t realize how much was happening in the Space Station. Friends, do you think you could ever be an astronaut? Scratch that. What I mean to ask is could you ever sacrifice so much time away from your family for a greater good? Could you, would you, and have you ever? I’d love to hear your experiences and opinions, whether you’re a parent who travels once a year for three days and agonizes over it, or you’ve got a job that requires a lot of time out-of-town. I’m somewhere in between, so I’ll be super interested in your stories and coping tricks.

P.S. — Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. And if you’d like to share your own home with us, just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!

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{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

1 maryann October 8, 2013 at 10:32 am

That. Was. Awesome!!! Best thing I read all day.
Thank you, Karen, for showing us your life on the Space Station. Its fascinating, and a little terrifying. I so admire your bravery, and envy your views of space and the earth.

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2 Becki October 8, 2013 at 10:38 am

This is so amazing!!! Thank you for sharing. I love hearing about space travel, the space station, and this astronaut family. It is inspiring. I am surprised that the days pass so quickly confined in such a small area. I can imagine the views never getting old and wanting to watch out the windows all of the time. Best wishes to them for a safe and happy return home.

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3 Koseli Cummings October 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

Oh my goodness. That was absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for sharing!

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4 Megan M. October 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

Wow! Unbelievable, and yet it’s real! I just never think about the space station… it’s like, always there, old news, except that there is so much important work being done and so many people away from their families for months at a time. Bless them all and thank you for sharing your experience with us, Karen.

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5 Bestof2sisters October 8, 2013 at 10:54 am

Wow, Karen. That was incredible!! Wow.

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6 Whitney Smith Cripe October 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

SO SO SO GOOD! Yes! I love this. Living in Space. This woman’s brilliant perspective and sacrifice for science and for her career and her honesty are just marvelous. Great job, Gabrielle.

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7 Labrando un Hogar -Andreína- October 8, 2013 at 11:02 am

Sin palabras impresionante ;)

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8 Sunny Day October 8, 2013 at 11:16 am

No words (or I am speechless) – Impressive

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9 Kristen October 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

WOW! Thank you for this and, as Gabby said, thank you for your sacrifice. Really, really amazing and inspiring.

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10 Christy@SweetandSavoring October 8, 2013 at 11:12 am

So fascinating! I just read through it twice already. This is truly a way of life that seems so secretive and hidden away, thank you for a peek into the life of an astronaut! I was wondering if you have to be strapped to your bed to sleep? The zero gravity aspect is so intriguing.
And I’m sure I’d spend most of my time staring at the views, too!

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11 Sarah October 8, 2013 at 6:44 pm

They have sleeping bags attached to the wall in their sleeping quarters — so yes, they’re constrained so they don’t float away during the “night.” (Although day and night don’t really exist up there like they do down here!)

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12 Sarah October 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

Thank you Gabrielle for this awesome interview!
Thank you Karen for your work, your sacrifice and sharing! When I was little I dreamed of being an astronaut, but… when I realized I had to be quite good at math, physics and others, I let the dream go by… today, I just stare in awe at all astronauts!!!
Gabrielle, my mom and dad traveled a lot for their work all my life…. They would go away also for 6 months, and even if it wasn’t outer space, it was often in the other side of the planet… no way for us to afford the trip, there was no internet, phone calls were extremely expensive and letters could take 2 to 3 weeks to arrive! Of course we missed them dearly (and once we forgot how my dad looked like… Ooops!). But we were never traumatized by it, they did it for humanitarian causes and we always respected that!
So, my mom started to leave us little messages for every day in a notebook, months before leaving. We solved the “how did dad look like?” issue with tons of photos on the house, recording their voices and letters as often as they could! When we were little it was hard to measure time… so the parent who would be at home would buy a satin ribbon and mark little marks, we would cut a little bit every night and we would have a idea of how long until we saw her or him again. And the arrival was always a huge party, we would dress up, go to the airport, decorate the house, take tons of pictures…. There was some frustration when one of the parents was too tired at the arrival though. My mom always tell us the day that my brother seeing my dad sleeping almost 2 days on a role , said: ” We sent a perfect dad and they sent us back a broken one…” LOL!!!!
But it was all wonderful and there are no family regrets on it! I guess it really depends on how you prepare the kids for it and how we handle it as a family….
: )

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13 amy October 8, 2013 at 11:30 am

wow. I can’t wait to show this to my boys who are obsessed (OBSESSED) with space travel. Adam has memorized the book “moonshot”

(did you mean ‘equator’ in one of the last pictures? Terminator seems odd!

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14 Sarah October 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Terminator is the word for the dividing line between daylight and darkness — so yep, that’s a photo of the terminator. :)

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15 Amy October 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm

thanks! I learn something every day!

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16 Mina October 8, 2013 at 11:31 am

Awesome story! Not everyday you get to see and read about a mommy’s life in outer space! Amazing!

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17 Rea A. October 8, 2013 at 11:41 am

This is sooo surreal!!! I had so much realizations while reading this so thank you so much for sharing this story. I’ve always wondered how it is in the outer space, looks really cool and amazing!

I currently got accepted in a job that entails a lot of travelling. I decided not to pursue it because turned out my husband is not ready yet, and I guess, so was I. This is very inspiring.

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18 rachael October 8, 2013 at 11:46 am

Beautiful! I could never be gone that long from my family, I commend her for her inner strength.

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19 Beth October 8, 2013 at 11:49 am

This was fascinating. What a fantastic role model for young girls – someone who is at the top of her career and also a great mom. We need more women in STEM fields!! Thanks for sharing this.

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20 CeeBee October 8, 2013 at 11:52 am

Mind-blowing!! Best surprise read ever!

What a great way to present a working mom’s perspective, too. I admit that I make too many choices out of fear that something may happen to me or my children, so I have the utmost respect for Karen’s courage and fortitude!

Karen, many thanks to you and your colleagues for your work, and to the Government for allowing us to share in your home away from home. Godspeed!

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21 Amber October 8, 2013 at 11:53 am

Thank you so much for sharing this! Amazing.

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22 Rikki October 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm

This both inspires me and freaks me out! I am fascinated by space, but the sheer magnitude is completely awe-some.

Do you think she had to come home because of the shutdown? I tried to check out the live cam that she mentioned and it wasn’t available because of the shutdown. Just thought she maybe had to return home. That would have been bittersweet, I’m sure.

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23 Sarah October 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Nope, the astronauts onboard the space station — as well as a small group of people working in Mission Control — were excepted from being furloughed due to the government shutdown. 97% of NASA employees like me are sitting home at the moment though. :(

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24 ann October 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

love this!

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25 Jeanette October 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Just WOW.
I took a year off blogging and it is very cool to come back for this post. I so enjoyed all of it, the inside look at both the living quarters and the emotional toll and feelings of an actual astronaut. My husband is going to LOVE looking at these photos.
Good insight about it being harder on the family left behind.
Thanks :)

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26 Kate October 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm

How cool! And I totally admit to googling ‘how do astronauts use the bathroom in outer space?’ :)

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27 Emily October 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

That is SO COOL! Thank you so much for sharing, Karen! This is by far my favorite living with kids post. So incredible.

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28 christine e-e October 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Gabrielle & Karen… what a treat to read this “real world” experience. It sounds as if you spend some time on the computer during your times off? you mentioned Pinterest… Isn’t it thrilling to be able to connect with your family while circling the earth… that is mind-boggling. Have you thought about taking your pictures and creating a picture book for elementary school girls & boys. What a fabulous contribution this would be for our young readers & exposing them to the wonders of science & math would certainly help educate our children. I’m planning to share this link with my family. Thank you! thank you!

BTW – do you read blogs & spend time online while in space? I have so many questions to ask too – kids want to know what you eat, how you use the bathroom, do you shower? what sort of clothes do you wear in the capsule? what did you pack for the trip (that sounds funny)? have you gotten sick? how do you get back to earth? what are your hobbies? how long will it take to acclimate to earth (standing, walking)? what will you plan to do when you arrive home?

Gabrielle – have you considered a follow-up interview with Karen (on earth)?

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29 Design Mom October 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I love the idea of a follow-up, Christine. Brilliant!

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30 Sarah October 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm

The astronauts do have internet access at times and can get online during their personal time — so maybe Karen is reading is now! :)

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31 Tiffany L. October 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I’ve always loved Design Mom, but this has to be the coolest, most fascinating post I’ve read. As soon as my boys get home from school I want to show them the entire thing. To get such a first-hand look at what is happening on the space station is amazing. Thank you Karen for taking the time, and Gabrielle for posting! (Also, this really makes me want to go see that new movie “Gravity!”)

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32 Raquel October 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm

I saw “Gravity” last weekend, and this looked familiar! :-) I simply can’t imagine what it’s like to be gone from family for so long, and in space nontheless! What a great post–yes, thanks so much for this amazing bird’s eye view, Karen. I’m in awe of what you do. Wish you a safe stay up there and a safe journey back home. I’ll wave too!

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33 KelliO October 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm

What a stellar interview! I can’t wait to show my husband, and I’m looking up Karen on Pinterest. So nice to “get to know” someone there, so it makes the ISS so much more relatable!

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34 Sophie October 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Waow! I love that. It gives a new dimension to DesignMom, doesn’t it? Amazing and so inspirational. What a model for young girls, and for Mums and Dads! Follow your dreams is the message!

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35 Tina@Traveling Mama October 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm

wow! That is definitely going to be my favorite post EVER on Design Mom. I’m certain of it! I do hope you can do a follow up. I’ll definitely be sharing this with my kids and would love to tell/show them more!

Thanks so, so much for a great article! Now I want to be an astronaut when I grow up!

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36 Alyssa October 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I am a teacher and have been loving the video clips created by Karen and her colleagues aboard the International Space Station. If you have kids (0r are now super interested yourself) you should check them out on YouTube. The give a video tour of the space station, show how they eat, wash their hair, use the bathroom, etc. It’s fascinating!

I have to admit, I wondered how families dealt with the huge gap of space between them. I can only imagine staring at North America from space and wondering how my little specks were doing. It sure puts life into a very different perspective.

Thank you, Karen, for sharing your life with the world. The work that you are all doing on social media is creating a whole new level of interest in space research!

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37 Geevz October 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

This is my favorite tour yet. SO cool! I got a kick out of her pinterest as well :)

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38 Lauren October 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

This is incredible! I’m forwarding this to my rocket scientist husband… :)

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39 Deidra October 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I loved a video Karen made about washing her hair in space. So very cool to see other details of her life.

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40 Ivonne October 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

¡Este post es fantástico, Gabrielle!
This is fantastic, Gabrielle! This leads your blog to another level. These are the reasons (or post) why I love your blog. As for Karen, what can I say? It is wonderful to read her story. I admire women who go beyond the borders (in this case goes to space!) yet still betting to motherhood and all that that implies.
Can you imagine her little boy telling his friends that his mom and dad are astronauts? So cool!!

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41 Mary October 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Easily the coolest “Home Tour” yet! How fascinating and awesome!

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42 Katie October 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm

What an enchanting ‘home tour’ – I don’t know how I’d get anything done with a view like that. GREAT post!!!

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43 Mrs. A October 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Wow, wow, wow! What an amazing home tour and what an amazing person! I have a new hero to show my son tonight when he comes home from 1st grade – he LOVES astronauts and is convinced he will be the first man on Mars! This morning we had a breakfast conversation today about women scientists, explorers and inventors and this would be a great follow-up!

My heart nearly broke when Karen explained how hard the separation has been on her family. I echo the request for a follow up when she “returns to Earth,” to repeat her words. I can only imagine how brave and strong and this will make her son Jack feel someday – to know his mom can love him all the way out from outer space!

Oh, and Karen – if you are reading this, did you find the geocache on the International Space Station? My son and husband love geocaching and he mentioned there is one up there. If you find it, can you tell us what’s in it? And, do you do any classroom presentations from space?

Again, WOW! Thank you Karen and thank you Gabriel. :)

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44 Heather K. October 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm

A

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45 Mary October 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Coolest. post. ever.

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46 Sarah October 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Whoa, my worlds are colliding! I work at NASA in Houston also (though I’m not an astronaut, lol!) and have been loving watching Karen’s activities from space since they overlap so closely with my own. So excited to see her here on one of my favorite blogs!!

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47 Sheila October 9, 2013 at 9:50 am

Just wanted to say thanks to you for all your feedback throughout the comments. Nice to have another expert around!

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48 Lindsay October 8, 2013 at 7:32 pm

So cool! I will wonder from now on if I am seeing a moving star or a space shuttle in the night sky!
I typically only travel 1-2 times for my work but always experience anxiety – praying and having friends reassure always is helpful! I always enjoy the trips — great for the boys too!

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49 Cara October 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I’ve been reading this blog for years now, but this is the first time I’m posting a comment. This was the B.E.S.T. house tour I have ever read on your blog. So fantastic! I love the role-model that Karen is to young women, especially my own daughters. Thank you Karen for your dedication to science and your family!

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50 Karen October 8, 2013 at 7:43 pm

My favorite story yet- thanks!

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51 Jacqueline October 8, 2013 at 7:45 pm

This is absolutely amazing! Thank you for sharing these wonderful images!

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52 kelly harp October 8, 2013 at 7:59 pm

wow, karen! thanks so much for sharing that. i feel so inspired as well.
i especially loved the story of your son seeing the ISS in the sky & saying Hi Mommy! i wonder if & how he will remember this time when he’s older?

ps: i would love a follow up interview, too!

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53 KJ@leysgoflyakite October 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Amazing! The perfect post to celebrate World Space Week. Can’t wait to show my daughters! They loved the model ISS bathrooms at the Kennedy Space Centre and I know they will love this tour!

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54 Zoe - SlowMama October 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Incredible. Those photos! Beyond beautiful. I’m so glad to have learned more about what happens on the space station. I don’t have it in me to be an astronaut — I have a hard enough time getting on a commercial aircraft for a short airplane ride! — but I so admire the dedication, talent, service, and sacrifices of Karen and her colleagues.

Thanks for this awesome interview/home tour, Gabrielle.

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55 Martha October 8, 2013 at 8:37 pm

best blog post ever! that was fascinating. thanks for sharing!!

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56 Jocelyn October 8, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Wow, that wasn’t what I was expecting when today for this series. So awesome. I was able to show my 5 year old son your pictures and tell him all about your experience. He then went and got out his legos to build his own space station. My son was also very excited that you were coming home the day before his birthday. :) Thanks for all you do and the sacrifices you make.

Gabby, how cool is it to know that someone in space reads your blog?!!

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57 mom in mendon October 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Wow. We have always held our astronauts in high-regard, but never have I read a Mom Perspective. This post is somehow humbling–it puts a lot of other things in perspective. Thank you, Karen and DM.

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58 jen October 8, 2013 at 9:51 pm

i loved this. thank you karen for sharing your story and the sacrifices you make for science and mankind!

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59 lisa thomson October 8, 2013 at 11:05 pm

How spectacular! Thanks for sharing such a phenomenal story :))

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60 Sharon October 8, 2013 at 11:27 pm

That was truly “out of this world!” What a cool, cool idea and interview!! My son (10) and I read through the whole thing and then went to NASA TV to see what is going on. Sadly, the site is down b/c of the government shut down.

Karen, you are setting such an amazing example for your son! You are following your passion, working hard, and are able to be both a parent (and an excellent one, far away or no!) and showing your son how it’s done. Good for you and THANK YOU! We’ve spotted the space station several times in the night sky (love the app that tells you when to look in your area!) and now you’ll have a family near Seattle waving to you!

Gabrielle, THANK YOU!

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61 Carrie October 9, 2013 at 2:58 am

What an interesting and creative post–thank you, Gabrielle and Karen, for sharing!

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62 Misty October 9, 2013 at 5:24 am

I know this is slightly off subject but, Karen, are you going to watch Gravity? I just did and I keep thinking about your post. Do you like space movies or do all the inaccuracies drive you mad?

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63 Misty October 9, 2013 at 5:26 am

I know this is slightly off subject but, Karen, are you going to watch Gravity? I just did and I keep thinking about your post. Do you like space movies or do all the misconceptions drive you nuts? ;-)

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64 Raleigh-Elizabeth October 9, 2013 at 6:11 am

This is so incredibly cool. And look! Even on the space station, you have more actual space than most military housing! (Any former-USMC family can appreciate that.)

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65 Sherr October 9, 2013 at 7:01 am

An amazing experience. I am in awe of the whole thing – of Karen. Soon, she’ll be home, though – with many stories and photos to share with her son :).

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66 Kelly October 9, 2013 at 7:49 am

Amazing! I am in awe! Thanks Karen for all the work you do, and the sacrifices you have made for Science, our Nation, and Humanity. Safe travels!

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67 megwrites October 9, 2013 at 8:07 am

This is such a great and unexpected post! My kids and I are really interested in space after going to the Air and Space Museum in DC this summer.

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68 Katie October 9, 2013 at 8:21 am

Thank you so much for posting this! Karen—you’re amazing and inspiring!

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69 Gretchen October 9, 2013 at 8:27 am

What a great post! I just finished reading The Astronaut Wives Club so I definitely felt some sympathy for the family stress in this situation! Thank you for your work!

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70 bec October 9, 2013 at 8:43 am

awesomeness!- but definitely sad to think of the long length of time away from family. That would be a hard choice for me.

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71 Kendra October 9, 2013 at 10:39 am

I never write comments, but I just had to say thank you so much for sharing! What an inspiring, beautiful story. I really resonated with her point that she tries to never make her job or absence seem like a negative thing for her son. My dad traveled a lot when I was young and my parents did the same thing—they just played up the good sides. And it worked! Parents have a lot of power in these situations to frame things in either a positive or a negative light—kids just want to know that their parents are safe, and it’s a bonus if they’re doing something cool (like this!) that they can explain to their friends. How awesome is her son going to feel some day telling his friends that his mom spent six months in the International Space Station?

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72 Mary October 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Dear Karen Nyberg, thank you for sharing. This was so very interesting. I’ve been following your twitter feed since you went up to the ISS. Last night I waved to you and your crew as I watched the ISS fly over Katy, TX. I know, goofy, but I just could not help myself. Wishing you the best!

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73 Jane October 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Incredible!

Funnily enough, a friend recommended I read this: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything (www.amazon.com/Astronauts-Guide-Life-Earth-ebook/dp/B00DTUHIDA)

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74 Tere October 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Gaby, this is awesome!!! Sometimes we forget we are all bonded by this gift of motherhood, and even in cool jobs like Karen’s, people live for and miss their kids, so today’s living with kids was a reminder plus a very neat story!! Thanks Karen!! What a view you have, mesmerizing! Safe travels back! It made me sing again Space Oddity with commander Hadfield, did you watch him?

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75 Tricia October 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Best. Tour. Ever!!!!
!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!

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76 JananW October 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Awesome, especially after just seeing the new movie, Gravity. :)

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77 Dee October 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm

This is incredible! Thanks so much for sharing.

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78 Lynn October 9, 2013 at 7:11 pm

AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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79 Christopher Daniel Maxwell October 10, 2013 at 12:07 am

@ karen, thank you for sharing! will we see you singing any of your somgs to your son? i would love to see you make a music video ala, col. chris hadfields’ “space oddity”! – one of my requests to him that went unobserved(!-) was “across the universe”… would love to see you record a few things in reverse, then played forward… just to watch your mesmerizing hair! – warm regards, christopher daniel maxwell…

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80 Kirby October 10, 2013 at 12:51 am

I love this. Thank you both for sharing.

I am an OB/Gyn resident and I work a lot… we are limited to 80 hours of clinical activity each week, but this doesn’t include meetings, conferences, studying, etc. I have an 18 month old and a husband who I miss terribly. I love my job, but I miss my family. I crave being able to think about and execute decorating my house or consider going to a yoga class. I cherish every single moment with my baby.

However, every time I leave my family for work I know I’m coming home… it may be 26 hours, but I do get to go home. I am grateful for all of our servicemembers who don’t have that luxury.

I also have the odd 20 minutes at work when I can read a blog, send an email, or order socks for my baby. Although I’m often running full tilt and can’t find a minute to myself in 14 hours, I do have the luxury of a few minutes here and there once in a while. I usually spend it looking at pictures or videos of my toddler.

Balance is impossible as a surgical resident. But, I owe it to my patients to learn as much as I can during these fast four years. I do love my job, I just can’t wait to do it a little bit less and be there for my family a little bit more.

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81 Bonnie @ The Pin Junkie October 10, 2013 at 9:24 am

Wow! best “Living With Kids” home tour yet! Amazing pictures and interesting read. Thanks for sharing Gabrielle!

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82 Jen October 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm

So fantastic. What a strong, enduring woman. Like you, I feel a strange sense of crushing pride reading about her sacrifices and her strength.

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83 Nina October 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

This interview and pictures is truly amazing and awe-inspiring. I am so impressed by this woman. She is incredible. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world. My son is so interested in space right now, I’m going to share this with him. Absolutely fascinating! Thank you!

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84 Stoich91 October 10, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Wow! Yes, follow up, yes please and thank you! This was so cool!

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85 Regina October 10, 2013 at 11:29 pm

This has got to be one of my most favorite posts ever! And so timely too, after having seen “Gravity” last week. Thank you for the insider tour of the space station. I love seeing the beautiful images of the earth but never stopped to consider what life is like for the astronauts who get see to see it in real life, and what they have to sacrifice when they leave home. I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that there is some free time, a bit of private space, and video chats with family!

P.S. I was already tearing up at the introduction. Was I the only one??

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86 Rosetta Savelli October 11, 2013 at 8:16 am

Complimenti per questo Blog !
In questa occasione l’ospite è un ospite di grande valore e bellezza.
Io seguo Karen Nyberg quotidianamente nella sua pagina Facebook e ogni volta lei riesce a suscitare la mia ammirazione e la mia simpatia.
Incominciando dai capelli, sempre biondi e senpre all’aria e poi una mamma spaziale non è sempre così comune.
A Karen piacciono le nuvole che lei generosamente ritrae e rende visibili ai suoi Fan.
Le sue fotografie sono molto belle e artistiche, con un occhio e un tocco molto delicato e attento.
Io seguo continuamente questa Astronauta che sa essere insime tante realtà diverse, con intelligenza e dolcezza e aggiungerei anche con ironia.
Karen è un Ingegnere Meccanico che ama correre in solitudine, mettendo le scarpe da corsa anche ai suoi pensieri e che non rinuncia a farlo neppure sulla navicella lassù.
Karen è la Betty Ross della Nasa, che oltre agli stemmi spaziali, sa cucire e ricamare anche belle creazioni per i bambini e per il suo in particcolare.
Il suo Tirannosaurus Rex farebbe impallidire persino Spielberg !
Poi Karen lassù nello Spazio non si dimentica di pensieri gentili verso il marito e così esibisce con orgoglio e dolcezza una fascia sui suoi capelli, che il marito le ha donato e che ha forme geometriche in bianco e nero.
Inoltrei si può notare un’ulteriore particolarità: Karen Nyberg è l’unica donna lassù nello Spazio, insieme ad Astronauti uomini e questo significa che lei è in grado di tenere benissimo testa a loro.
E poi c’è molto altro ancora, ultimo ma non ultimo, il suo cane nero che la sta già aspettando per il prossimo mese di novembre.
Grazie a Karen Nyberg per essere così, come è.

Rosetta Savelli dall’Italia.

Congratulations on this blog !
On this occasion the guest is a guest of great value and beauty.
I follow Karen Nyberg daily in his Facebook page and every time she manages to arouse my admiration and my sympathy.
Beginning haired , blond and always senpre air space and then a mother is not always so common.
A Karen like the clouds that she generously portrays and makes visible to his fans .
Her photographs are very beautiful and artistic , with one eye and a very gentle touch and caring.
I follow this continually Astronaut who can be many different realities, with intelligence and sweetness and also add with irony.
Karen is a mechanical engineer who loves to run in solitude , putting your running shoes even in his thoughts, that they do not give up even on the ship there.
Karen is the Betty Ross of NASA, that in addition to spatial arms , she could sew and embroider also beautiful creations for children and for his in particcolare .
His Tyrannosaurus Rex would dwarf even Spielberg !
Then Karen up there in space do not forget to kind thoughts toward her husband , and so proudly displays sweetness and a band on her hair , her husband gave her and has geometric shapes in black and white.
Inoltrei you may notice an additional special feature: Karen Nyberg is the only woman up there in space, along with Astronauts men and this means that she is able to hold their head very well .
And then there’s much more, last but not least , his black dog that is already waiting for the next month of November.
Thanks to Karen Nyberg to be so , as she is.

Rosetta Savelli Italy.

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87 Monica October 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I just saw Gravity two days ago and my stomach just tied back up in knots looking at those photos. :)

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88 Dena October 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I read this post with great interest earlier this week and LOVED it! Tonight, in our small Cleveland, Ohio neightborhood, we saw the space station pass overhead in the sky. It was amazing and I felt oddly connected to it having seen this intimate peek into Karen Nyberg’s life. So brave. So cool.

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89 Livesey girl October 11, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Wow! I struggle to let my boys go to my Mum’s over night! This must be such a bitter sweet experience x

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90 Emily October 12, 2013 at 9:10 am

This was fascinating!! A great post, thank you so much for sharing. What a great idea this was!

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91 The Sleepy Time Gal October 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm

absolutely astounding. thanks to both of you for sharing such an incredible post. loved it. can’t wait to share with my space-loving girls.

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92 Heather October 12, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Wow! What an incredible story and interview! My house is space central as we get ready for Halloween (my 4 year tried to wear his astronaut helmet to bed tonight) so I cannot wait to share this with him. While I can somewhat imagine being gone from my family for that long, the physical distance is what makes my heart ache. And that thin wall into nothingness….eeek. {Insert shudder here.} Thank you so much for sharing this story!

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93 Tessa October 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm

My 4 year-old daughter told me she wants to be an astronaut and a mom when she grows up. I can’t wait to show her this when she gets home from school! She told me she didn’t think astronauts could be moms, too. She will love this!

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94 Amy October 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I read this post yesterday (10/14) and today, they mentioned Karen Nyberg in an NPR story. I felt so smart knowing who she was even before they did the report. Great post!! :)

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