For Astronauts, It's A Family Affair

Filed under: Just For Moms, Just For Dads, Work Life, In The News

space shuttle Discovery crew

The crew of space shuttle Discovery have 20 children among them. Credit: Getty Images

Space: The final frontier ... for parents?

All seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery, which was supposed to launch Tuesday but got delayed and launched on Saturday, are parents, reports the Associated Press in a story picked up by The New York Times.

In total, the crew boasts 20 children ranging in age from 6 to 26. The AP offered a glimpse into the lives of the parents.

While space has become a family affair, only one mom is along for Discovery's ride -- Nicole Stott, who has a 7-year-old son. Stott, 46, will have the distinction of being the first American woman to live at the international space station for three months with a young child at home. Her husband, Chris, will care for their son while the space mom is away, as he has done throughout Stott's overseas training.

In spite of the adventurous nature of Stott's business trip, she sounded like a lot of moms who juggle work and family when she told the AP, "'I can honestly say I would not be doing this if I didn't think it was to help improve life here on Earth for him [her son] and make things better for the future for him and other kids as well."

Stott isn't the only one inspired by her child.

Astronaut Danny Olivas, 43, has five children ages 6 to 14. He told the AP: "'The whole notion of exploring and space is what we, as human beings, can fundamentally do to nurture our children's sense of awe and pushing their own envelopes."

And Jose Hernandez, 47, also a father of five, hopes his family history will inspire children. Having grown up in a Mexican migrant family and used education to overcome poverty, Hernandez told the AP he wants kids to think, ''Hey, you know, if he did it, why can't I do it?''

Adding to the Discovery brood, pilot Kevin Ford has two children in their 20s; Commander Rick Sturckow has two young children; Patrick Forrester has two sons in their 20s; and Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang has three children.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.