Shuttle Astronauts Take Time Off in Space

Shuttle Astronauts Take Time Off in Space
Astronauts Charles O. Hobaugh (top left), STS-129 commander; Barry E. Wilmore (bottom right), pilot; Leland Melvin and Nicole Stott, both mission specialists, pose for a photo in the Quest airlock of the International Space Station during the November 2009 mission. (Image credit: NASA)

Astronautsaboard the linked shuttle Atlantis and International Space Station took somewell-deserved time off Sunday to rest up from their mission to stock up theorbiting lab, with one spaceflyer overjoyed after hearing news of the birth ofhis new baby daughter.

Atlantisastronaut Randy Bresnik kicked off the day by announcing that his wifeRebecca had given birth overnight to a healthybaby girl.

"Ijust wanted to take this opportunity to report some good news," Bresnikradioed Mission Control. ?At 11:04 p.m. last night, Abigail Mae Bresnik joinedthe NASA family.?

Bresnik,and his crewmates, had been waiting for two days for news of the birth, whichwas initially expected Friday. The Bresniks named the baby, their second child,Abigail Mae. They also have a son, Wyatt, who is 3 1/2.

"It isa fantastic event for the Bresnik family," said lead station flightdirector Brian Smith in a Saturday briefing before the birth.

Today, Atlantisastronauts spent part of their Sunday resting up and discussing theirspaceflight with reporters. They will also prepare for their mission?sthird and last spacewalk, a 6 1/2-hour excursion by Bresnik and crewmate RobertSatcher, Jr., which is set for early Monday.

"Tomorrowis going to be off-duty time," Smith said. "The mission is proceeding extremelywell. The shuttle crew is doing great. The station crew is doing great."

Atlantis? sixSTS-129 crewmembers arrived at the orbital outpost Nov. 18, joining six otherspaceflyers already on the station for long-term missions of their own.Everyone is getting some down time Sunday, Smith said, though some astronautson both crews will work part-time to transfer equipment from the shuttle to thestation and back, and to investigate false alarms that have been plaguingthe orbital outpost lately.

"We'llget some more insight into what's going on," Smith said of the testsplanned for Sunday. Saturday night was a quiet one for the astronauts after twostraight days of interrupted sleep due to the alarms.

Atlantisastronauts have completed twospacewalks and a host of robotics work so far. Their mission is a supplytrip, outfitting the station with large spare parts to have on hand in casesomething breaks.

Today willlikely be a quiet day, allowing the Atlantis astronauts to rest and enjoy beingin space before powering through the rest of their mission, including anotherspacewalk scheduled for Monday.

Atlantisand her crew are slated to depart the orbiting laboratory Wednesday and returnhome to Earth Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

While sixastronauts, led by commander Charlie Hobaugh, launched on the shuttle lastweek, seven are scheduled to ride Atlantis back to Earth. NASA astronaut NicoleStott, who's been serving onboard the station as a flight engineer for aboutthree months, is due to cap off her long-duration trip and join the crew forthe ride home.

Stottcelebrated her birthday in space on Saturday. "Out of this world birthday today!" she wrote viaTwitter, under the name "Astro_Nicole."

 SPACE.comis providing complete coverage of Atlantis' STS-129 mission to theInternational Space Station with Staff Writer Clara Moskowitz and ManagingEditor Tariq Malik based in New York. Click here for shuttle missionupdates and a link to NASA TV.

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Clara Moskowitz
Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz is a science and space writer who joined the team in 2008 and served as Assistant Managing Editor from 2011 to 2013. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She covers everything from astronomy to human spaceflight and once aced a NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training program for space missions. Clara is currently Associate Editor of Scientific American. To see her latest project is, follow Clara on Twitter.