June 16, families celebrated Father’s Day across the world. Some dads are out of this world, however. Ten children celebrated the day while their dads were orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station. Part of the Expedition 35/36 crew, the five male crew members each leave behind one or more children. These high-flying dads include two Americans and three Russians. Their combined mission is scheduled to last from May to Sept. of 2013.
Thanks to modern telecommunications — including video, email and an Internet protocol phone — the spacefarers’ children and their moms can still stay in touch while their dads and husbands orbit above them at about 220 miles (354 km). It may not be the same as having them at home, but at least they’re able to stay in touch. The crew usually has weekends off, so they were expected to have plenty of time to connect with their loved ones.
“The communication is really good,” said NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy. “In fact I sometimes feel like I am more in touch with my family on the space station then when I was traveling back and forth to all the different training locations in the previous couple of years leading up to the flight.”
This is not Cassidy’s first mission away from his family, which includes a wife and three children. He was a member of the shuttle Endeavor’s STS-127 mission in 2009 that assisted in the construction of the ISS. He also served as a U.S. Navy SEAL for 10 years, twice in Afghanistan and twice in the Mediterranean. Cassidy joined the mission after May’s Soyuz rocket launch from Kazakhstan.
The full crew, including one woman, arrived at the station in two groups of three in March and May as part of Expeditions 35 and 36 respectively. They include Mission Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy, Luca Parmitano, Alexander Misurkin, Karen Nyberg and Fyodor Yurchikhin. They will perform six spacewalks, and carry out numerous experiments to designed improve life on Earth.
NASA said in a press release, “The research mission of the station is to develop knowledge that strengthens our economy and improves life on Earth, advances future exploration beyond Earth orbit, and uses this unique laboratory for scientific discovery.
“During the approximate six-month timeframe of Expedition 35/36, 137 investigations will be performed on the U.S. operating segment of the station, and 44 on the Russian segment. More than 430 investigators from around the world are involved in the research. The investigations cover human research, biological and physical sciences, technology development, Earth observation, and education.”
NASA hopes Sunday was a special day for all the dads aboard the ISS and their families. Detailed information on the Expedition 35/36 mission can be found at nasa.gov.