Commander Chris Hadfield won’t be tweeting from space in the near future, but there are new refreshments arriving soon on the International Space Station to take up the baton.
Hadfield, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko touched down in Kazakhstan on Monday. Later this month, a Soyuz capsule is scheduled to blast off with three new spacefarers to round out the ISS crew: European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg.
Nyberg, 43, grew up in a small town in Minnesota. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of North Dakota and a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. As a graduate student, she studied how the human body self-regulates temperature inside space suits. She also worked for NASA as a student and holds a patent for a robot probe and socket assembly.
In a NASA interview, Nyberg said she was looking forward to all aspects of her life onboard the ISS: “the science part of it, the robotics part of it; living there, I think I’m probably looking forward to the most, just making that my home and I think that’s going to be pretty special.”
This will be Nyberg’s second trip to the ISS, though her new ride up to the space station is considerably smaller than her last one. In 2008, she rode up on the space shuttle Discovery on a mission that delivered a load of Japanese-made equipment for the ISS, including a 37-foot-long laboratory module with a robotic arm.
When she's not designing robot parts or flying in space, Nyberg enjoys running, sewing, and drawing.
Parmitano, 36, studied political science at the University of Naples Federico II, and entered the Italian Air Force shortly thereafter. He also trained with the U.S. Air Force at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, and became a test pilot for the Italian Air Force in 2007. Parmitano has logged more than 2,000 hours of flight time on more than 40 types of aircraft, and was selected for the ESA astronaut program in 2009.
“When he finally got the call that he had been selected as an ESA astronaut he actually broke down in tears,” an ESA profile of Parmitano said. “His entourage assumed it was bad news, but his wife knew better: They were tears of joy.”
This mission will be Parmitano’s first spaceflight.
Yurchkhin, 54, entered the Moscow Aviation Institute right after his high school graduation. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and also obtained a master’s degree in economics from Moscow Service State University. This next mission will be his fourth spaceflight; he’s flown to the ISS in 2002, 2007 and 2010. Married, with two children, he enjoys reading science fiction and history and collecting stamps.