The exciting moment has finally arrived. NASA astronauts Karen Nyberg and Megan McArthur have been on the mission for years. Now, there are only a few days to go until the launch. The rocket is already standing at Cape Canaveral. Before long, the rocket will head straight into the clouds and send its crew to the International Space Station.
It’s just that the crew of the ship wasn’t Niberg and MacArthur. This time, it was their husbands who left Earth to set foot on the International Space Station. Nieberg and MacArthur will be waiting on the ground for their triumph.
Like their wives, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who took part in the mission, are both experienced astronauts. This week, the two will enter space on a new astronaut transport system designed and built by SpaceX, a rocket company founded by Elon Musk. They will also be the first NASA astronaut to travel into space from U.S. soil since 2011. For less than a decade, NASA has had to rely on other countries to send its astronauts into space. Now, Hurley and Becken will be the pioneers of rewriting this history.
The two astronauts show us that the structure of America’s workforce has changed dramatically since NASA began sending humans into space nearly 60 years ago. Over the years, the couple have balanced their family life while alternately carrying out space missions. Their story redefines the gender shift in space flight and re-creates the image of the “astronaut wife” in Hollywood movies – they’re no longer worried, they’re working side by side with their husbands.
“When Doug comes home, he can talk to me about his work, and he doesn’t have to explain it to me,” Nieberg said in a recent interview. “Because she knows that she’s been to the International Space Station, too. She also saw the earth in the dark through the ship’s windows, and walked through space with safety ropes on her body.
The meetings of the four astronauts are no different from the experiences of many non-astronauts: they are all at work. They all came to work for NASA in the summer of 2000. Hurley and Becken were engineers with military flight experience at the time. Nieberg is a mechanical engineer and MacArthur is an oceanographer. They took turns celebrating each other’s weddings – Hurley was Becken’s bridesmaid; In 2003, as the space shuttle Columbia was preparing to return to Earth, Hurley and Becken were on the tarmac waiting to celebrate the return of their colleagues, unaware that the spacecraft would suddenly disintegrate and that all the crew members would die. In 2009, Hurley was preparing for the first space trip of his life. During the medical isolation before departure, Nieberg told Hurley that she was pregnant. By the time Nieberg was ready to leave Earth, their son had put on diapers. Six months later, by the time she came back, their son had begun to learn how to go to the toilet.
Of the four of them, the man who has just completed the space mission is Niberg, in 2013. However, she did not set off from Cape Canaveral, as previous American astronauts had done. By the time Nieberg was on mission, the U.S. space shuttle had been grounded — and the space flight program had been canceled for cost, safety and political reasons. Instead, the U.S. paid Russia to fly American astronauts aboard a Russian spacecraft, joining Russian cosmonauts on a trip from Kazakhstan. For nearly a decade, NASA has been working with commercial companies, including SpaceX, to try to get its astronauts to set off from U.S. soil.
Nieberg and MacArthur will arrive at Cape Canaveral this week to witness the historic flight. They may know better than anyone what their husbands will face. When the first NASA astronaut flew into space decades ago, the most famous woman in American space was the astronaut’s wife. As wives of military personnel, they often fear for the safety of their husbands. But when it came to NASA, they were suddenly thrust into the public eye, and their photos were printed in Life magazine. In Houston, not far from the control center, reporters were stationed on the lawn in front of their yard, capturing their finest facial expressions.
These women must learn to deal with their role in the moon landing program. In this biography of NASA’s early astronaut wives, The Astronaut’s Wife Club, author Lily Koppel writes: “While their husbands are undergoing various trainings in space flight, each wife is also preparing for a day when she might have to face a television camera.” The world will be critical of their hair, skin tone, dress, body, body, parenting skills, talk, charm and, most importantly, love of the country. “Hollywood only saw their lives in the spotlight, and screenplays often portrayed them as isolated and helpless.
At that time, NASA would install call boxes in astronauts’ homes so their wives could keep abreast of the flight. NASA will also ask astronauts who are not assigned to the mission to answer questions from the wives about the obscure dialogue between husband and control center. In trouble, NASA turns off the call box as part of security measures, leaving wives clueless about what’s going on. In 1966, NASA cut off the call box during a flight by Neil Armstrong. To that end, Armstrong’s wife, Jane Armstrong, forced a NASA publicist to drive her to the control center, but the control center’s staff refused to let her in. Three years later, when Neil Armstrong was about to land on the moon, she told the director of space flight operations: “Try cutting off communications again!” “
Now, when Nieberg and MacArthur follow up on Hurley and Becken’s SpaceX missions through their notebooks, not the communication boxes, they can understand every word, every word in the communication. Given their expertise and status, it may be impossible for NASA to isolate the astronaut’s wife again in the event of mission trouble. Last year, SpaceX conducted an unmanned test exercise. But the company has shipped various satellites and space station supplies, but the manned flight is still the first. For MacArthur, when she was not the person aboard the ship, it was both a blessing and an unfortunate thing to do with her husband. “We know the situations they may face, the tools they have to use in those situations,” she said, “but there’s no doubt that it also means you’re well aware of the inherent risks of space flight.” “
In 1978, NASA allowed women to become astronauts. Nasa, however, took longer to understand their needs: In 1983, on the eve of a seven-day mission, engineers reportedly asked astronaut Sally Ride if 100 tampons were enough. Although, in 2002, before Nieberg and MacArthur completed their astronaut training, about 30 American women had been on space missions, and the crew was still dominated by men. Of the 17 astronauts, only three are women. Now, the problem is even more serious.
Like other Americans, the two astronaut couples are staying at home with their families this spring to avoid contracting the new coronavirus. Hurley and Becken have been tested for the virus at least twice to make sure they don’t bring the virus to the International Space Station. The outbreak disrupted NASA’s expectations for this historic moment , with crowds cheering and waving flags. However, astronauts are still preparing for missions as usual, especially for their young children. “You’re going to want to beas as good as you normally do,” Nieberg said. You’ll want to live in peace and enjoy the same reunion time as you always have. “
They say it’s more painful than sitting in a rocket and staying on the ground and watching a rocket launch. “There’s a moment when you feel like it’s hard to be rational, and watching someone you love leave Earth and go into space, it’s really hard to control your emotions, ” Nieberg said.
Of course, there are light-hearted moments. Like most space programs, the new mission has budget problems and technical failures. However, there may have been an episode of this kind that has never happened before. Becken said in an interview last year: “I got my menu, and then I had a list of food on the space shuttle. I feel strange when I look at it. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to eat this, or that one. But, I think, maybe because of the restrictions, I can only eat these things. Then I found the guy who was preparing the menu and said, ‘Hey guy, what’s going on?’ I don’t remember ordering these foods. As a result, they got the wrong menu. Becken’s menu is MacArthur’s. According to NASA’s list, MacArthur’s registered last name is Becken.
The historic spaceX mission also raises the question: Does Neiberg and MacArthur have a chance to get into space soon aboard SpaceX? Both said NASA didn’t choose them to carry out the mission because they didn’t have the military experience like their husbands, and THAT NASA would always choose pilots to carry out missions when the new craft made its maiden flight. Nieberg, who retired from NASA in March, is pleased with his flight history. But MacArthur said she would love to try it again if she doesn’t carry out the mission with Becken. There has to be a person to stay and take care of the family. “We’ll be there for my flight and wait for the right time,” MacArthur said. (Mul)