Nyberg set to launch at end of the month [UPDATED]Published 10:55am Monday, May 6, 2013 Updated 9:59am Wednesday, May 8, 2013
May means the countdown to liftoff has started for Vining astronaut Karen Nyberg. She will be traveling back to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on May 28.
This will be Nyberg’s second trip into space after she traveled to the station on the Space Shuttle Discovery five years ago and spent 14 days in orbit. This trip, she will be living at the space station for six months and utilizing it as a science laboratory.
“We have an incredible laboratory in low Earth orbit — the International Space Station,” Nyberg said in a blog post released by NASA.
“A miracle, really. If you could see it as I have, hanging above our Earth, I think you would agree. It’s simply amazing that such a piece of engineering is even possible.”
Nyberg’s crew of three astronauts will join another group of three already at the station and form the Expedition 36 crew.
After three months, the first crew will depart and be replaced with three more. Nyberg will return to Earth after three more months aboard the same Soyuz capsule that brought them to the station.
The space station offers the environment for ongoing science experiments in zero gravity.
The group will perform more than 100, some of which will be on their own bodies.
The prolonged period of time in weightlessness also threatens the loss of muscle and bone mass and astronauts must exercise daily to maintain their health.
But the extended trip has added to the excitement of Nyberg’s next flight to space.
While it will be grueling at times, she is cherishing the opportunity that only a few get to have.
“I will have time to reflect on what I’m doing as I’m actually doing it,” Nyberg said. “I hope to savor every second; every glance out the window at our planet, every push off one wall to float to the next. I hope to etch it in my brain so that, this time, I won’t need the pictures to remember what I’ve experienced.”
The launch will also mean a great deal to the small rural community where Nyberg grew up. While only a small group of family and friends will be there for the launch, there will be several different opportunities to be part of her historic event at home.
The Henning School District hopes to host a 20-minute live feed video conference with Nyberg for students after school begins next fall. Plans are also being finalized for a Launch Viewing Party at the school at 2:30 p.m. the day of the launch.
NASA TV and the NASA website (www.nasa.gov) will also carry live launch coverage. While in orbit, www.spotthestation.nasa.gov has directions for viewing the station during days and evenings it is briefly visible in the sky to the naked eye.