- NASA astronaut Anne McClain is training to fly to the International Space Station in November.
- McClain brought her son to a NASA portrait session featuring a spacesuit.
- Her son hammed it up for the camera, leading to some adorable official photos.
- McClain tweeted the photos partly in support of other mums who struggle to find a work-life balance.
Before NASA’s talented astronauts launch into space, they pose for an official photo shoot.
Most astronauts play it safe. They hop inside of a spacesuit, smile for the camera, then get back to their rigorous training. Some, however, choose to bring family, friends, and even pets along for the fun.
During an August 2017 portrait session by NASA, Anne C. McClain — a member of the 21st astronaut class, a decorated US Army Major, an attack helicopter pilot, an aerospace engineer, and a mother — brought her young son.
“The hardest part about training for space is the 4 yr old I have to leave behind every time I walk out the door,” McClain tweeted on Sunday, responding to soccer player and fellow mum Abby Wambach, who was seeking support in maintaining a work-life balance.
“I try to remember he will grow up and know what it looks like, behind the scenes, to pursue a dream. He is my ‘why.'”
On Tuesday, McClain (who is preparing to fly to the International Space Station in November) posted photos of herself in a spacesuit next to her young son. A representative at NASA’s Johnson Space Center told Business Insider that the pictures were taken by photographer Bill Stafford.
Here are the heartwarming images McClain shared, and what her son thinks it’s like to have a mum who’s an astronaut.
“[S]ometimes, I bring him to work with me. Not sure who enjoys it more!” McClain said on Tuesday while sharing this image.
When a Twitter user asked McClain what’s more difficult — staying or going — she responded: “No easy answer there.”
“One provides immediate comfort, the other achieves not only life long goals but also teaches life long lessons. Gotta play the long game here,” she added. “But it doesn’t make missing out on waffles with the kiddo in the morning any easier. Most parents can relate.”
McClain told a BART-train-driving Twitter user who sounded envious that her son “would trade me for a train driver without a second thought.”
“He thinks it’s pretty normal” to be an astronaut, she said. “His teacher asked their class what their parents did, and he told her I am an engineer. I asked if he told her anything else. He responded, ‘Mama, NONE of my friends have ever met an engineer….'”
McClain isn’t the only astronaut to get adventurous with her NASA photo shoots. Former astronaut Leland Melvin, who used to fly aboard the space shuttle, brought his rescue dogs Jake and Scout.
But NASA’s portraits don’t show the Sokol flight suit that McClain will actually wear when she launches to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
“[O]ne day you come to work and see this, and you realise it is not a costume. It is real. Not for training. An actual space suit – and it’s going to actual space. And it has your name on it. ????”
“[Y]ou have to try out said suit for nearly two hours while pressurised to make sure nothing hurts,” McClain said on Twitter. “Well, that nothing hurts too badly. Mission accomplished. My first act in my new real spacesuit was to sit and watch a movie! Oh and play with my gloves.”
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