Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Mother who is on a Business Trip in Outer Space

Catherine "Cady" Coleman is a mother and an astronaut who has logged, to-date, over 500 hours of space travel and she will not be home for Christmas or for the New Year.

As part of a six-person crew, Coleman and Dmitry Kondratiev of the Russian Space Agency, with Paolo Nespoli (an Italian) of the European Space Agency, last week launched into space for Expedition 26 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They joined NASA’s Scott Kelly, commander of the station, and flight engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka, who will already be there, having launched in a separate Soyuz craft on Oct. 7.

Coleman has been a NASA astronaut for more than 15 years and is a veteran of two space missions. The mission that she is on now will involve 5 months of outer space travel during which scientific experiments will be conducted.

She received an undergrad degree in chemistry from MIT and a PhD in polymer science and engineering from UMass Amherst in 1991. She turned 50 this past December 14.

When not training or flying in outer space, she spends time in Shelburne Falls in western Massachusetts (only a few towns over from where I live) with her son, Jamey, who is now 10, and her husband, Josh Simpson, who is a well-known glass artist.

Jamey was in Baikonur, Kazakhstan to see the launch.

The New York Times ran a very touching article this past week in which Jamey said that, over the next five months, he will watch for his mother from his tree house at their home in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, which lost its roof in a storm. “You can just lie on the floor and look up and see all the stars,” he said. The space station “is pretty obvious. It’s the brightest light in the sky.”

And I thought that my business trips to China, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia were long - distance ones and lengthy!

Coleman did ask for permission to take her son to space but permission was not granted.

We support the amazing Coleman-Simpson family and wish all families whose members are on duty, whether in the military, on business, or even in outer space, all the very best now and in 2011!