UPDATE: SpaceX's first attempt to launch the Demo-2 mission on Wednesday (May 27) was scrubbed due to bad weather (opens in new tab). The next launch try will be on Saturday (May 30) at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT).
Spaceflight is a family affair.
In the days of Apollo, astronaut families watched dutifully as their fathers and husbands marched out to the launch pad; the family unable to relate to what their loved ones were going through as they marched out to their spaceship. In more recent years, however, it's not unusual for astronaut family members to know exactly what that walk out to the rocket is like because they've done it themselves.
Today (May 27), NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are scheduled to launch to space aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule as part of the historic Demo-2 mission. Both men are experienced test pilots and have launched on multiple missions with NASA's space shuttle program. But they won't be the only veteran astronauts on-site.
Supporting them from the sidelines will be fellow NASA astronauts Karen Nyberg and Megan McArther — who also happen to be their wives. (McArther is married to Behnken and Nyberg is married to Hurley.)
Since both Hurley and Behnken are married to astronauts, their children — Behnken's son Theodore, who is 6, and Hurley's son Jack, who is 10 — are growing up with two astronaut parents.
Today, Nyberg and McArther along with their sons gave Behnken and Hurley an emotional sendoff as the pair got into the modified Tesla Model X that will take them to the launch pad. The Demo-2 crew waved, gave virtual hugs and blew kisses to their spouses and children from a short distance, as the astronauts cannot make direct contact to prevent bringing any unwanted bacteria or viruses with them to space. Once in the car, the astronauts' families came up to the windows to give them one final goodbye before the astronauts take off for space yet again.
Thank you @SpaceX for the unique privilege of seeing #CrewDragon on the pad w/ @astro_doug. For us, a silver lining to this pandemic is the special time we’ve had together as a family prior to launch, only because of our extended quarantine. Photo: Sam Friedman\SpaceX pic.twitter.com/cQqfdPYItyMay 26, 2020
In a prelaunch live video coverage on May 27, all four astronauts shared some sweet sentiments about their spouses leading up to liftoff. Hurley reminisced about watching Nyberg launch on a space shuttle. "When I saw a shuttle launch with my wife on it, that is quite the emotional experience, he said.
Nyberg added that "For Doug, personally, he's worked so hard I mean through his entire life to get to where we are right now. As a test pilot, this would be the dream to fly a new vehicle. So, it makes me so happy to see that he gets to be part of this mission, as spacecraft commander. I'm just glad to see his hard work and his dreams come true for that."
Behnken had a similar sentiment to Hurley, stating that "It's been really interesting, I think for both my wife and I to have gone through the process of seeing each other launch in[to] space. I've seen her take that risk." He added that "without a partner that has that same appreciation, I think it can be challenging for some folks. there's a lot of work and a lot of time that takes away from family that my spouse appreciates and I love her for that."
McArthur shared that "for me, personally, as a spouse, watching everything that Bob has put into this over the last 5 years, the dedication that he's shown, the perseverance is pretty special. For both of us though, the way our minds work, it won't be sort of until the mission is complete that you have really a chance to savor it and celebrate it. This is a huge accomplishment for an air force flight test engineer to be part of the demonstration mission of a new vehicle. It's going to be amazing."
The astronauts are thrilled to be able to share their space adventures with their kids. In a May 1 virtual media conference, Behnken gave a shoutout to his son, "hello to my son Theodore, hi Theo!" he said.
Later, in a final prelaunch address to the public on May 22, Behnken highlighted a "silver lining" that he's been enjoying leading up to the launch. Both astronauts took part in the standard preflight quarantine but, because their families were also living under quarantine conditions, they were able to spend the weeks leading up to their trip to Kennedy with their families. "They would have not normally been inside of our quarantine," he said.
But the pair of astronauts preparing to lift off to space aren't the only ones excited to share this launch with their astro-families. Nyberg has repeatedly shared on Twitter how thrilled she is for Hurley to launch with Demo-2 and how much fun their son Jack has had gearing up for the launch.
On May 20, just before Behnken and Hurley boarded a plane to the Kennedy Space Center, Nyberg shared their tender family sendoff on Twitter. "It is a special moment when the crew departs Ellington Field in Houston, heading to @NASAKennedy for the final week countdown to launch. We are so proud of @Astro_Doug and happy we could see him off. #LaunchAmerica," she wrote.
It is a special moment when the crew departs Ellington Field in Houston, heading to @NASAKennedy for the final week countdown to launch. We are so proud of @Astro_Doug and happy we could see him off. #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/LzgKZ7tCXcMay 20, 2020
A couple of days later, on May 22, she shared a sweet sentiment about her husband. In a retweet of a video about Hurley, she wrote "I like this guy."
I like this guy. ☺️ https://t.co/shNRG8l9tdMay 22, 2020
Even closer to the launch, on May 24, Nyberg shared a shot of her and, presumably, her son Jack flying over launch pad 39A at Kennedy where Hurley and Behnken will take off from. "Arriving in Florida with a flyby of your dad’s spaceship on the launch pad... Priceless. #LaunchAmerica #CrewDragon," she said on Twitter.
Arriving in Florida with a flyby of your dad’s spaceship on the launch pad... Priceless. #LaunchAmerica #CrewDragon pic.twitter.com/qnFIfPsHkMMay 24, 2020
Yesterday (May 26), the day before the scheduled liftoff, Nyberg shared one more tweet of her, Hurley and their son exploring the craft that will take Hurley to space and having a tender family moment. "Thank you for the unique privilege of seeing #CrewDragon on the pad w/ . For us, a silver lining to this pandemic is the special time we’ve had together as a family prior to launch, only because of our extended quarantine," she wrote on Twitter (opens in new tab).
The astronaut wives and children will have one more chance to see Hurley and Behnken in person before the pair launch to space. On launch day, after the pair leave astronaut crew quarters, where they've been staying at Kennedy, they will walk out to a modified Tesla Model X (featuring NASA's infamous Worm logo) where their family will be standing nearby. Before hopping in the vehicle, which will drive them to the launch pad, they will be able to speak with and wave goodbye to their families before leaving for space.
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