KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – Having one astronaut for a parent would be pretty unique but for NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Bob Behnken, their son, Theo, has two.
Theo, 7, and Behnken cheered and gave “air hugs” to McArthur early Friday morning as she suited up to launch on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and McArthur, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet were able to say goodbye in person outside the Operations and Checkout building at KSC a few hours before they were slated to lift off on the Falcon 9 rocket at 5:49 a.m.
While the astronauts can’t give hugs under their quarantine, they could wave and talk to their supporters before getting in Teslas to ride off to the pad.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk were also there to speak to the astronauts before their departure.
Theo was on top of Behnken’s shoulders as his mom got into the Tesla cheering her on. His dad was one of two astronauts, along with astronaut Doug Hurley, to be the first to launch in the Crew Dragon spacecraft last year. Now, McArthur will ride in the same position into space.
Behnken said before his launch, the couple has started a new tradition with Theo to launch model rockets before either of his parents launch to space. McArthur recently shared videos of those launches along the beach off Kennedy Space Center.
It wouldn't feel like Launch Week without a couple of test launches... pic.twitter.com/nQfp8MuomJ— Megan McArthur (@Astro_Megan) April 20, 2021
The astronauts will spend six months away from their families while they are working and living on the International Space Station.
This will be Hoshide’s longest time away from his family but he said he’s trying to look at it like a longer business trip. McArthur said they both have sons around the same age.
The Crew-2 mission is set to launch Friday at 5:49 a.m. and Dragon Endeavour will arrive Saturday around 5 a.m.