Video: Sending off 2nd astronaut parent to space in 1 year, Megan McArthur’s son cheers mom on before launch

4 astronauts launch from KSC

Crew-2 astronauts prepare for launch
Crew-2 astronauts prepare for launch

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.

[Space jams: Hear what the Crew-2 astronauts will listen to on their way to the launch pad]

Acting NASA Adminstrator Steve Jurczyk, back right, and SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk speak with NASA astronaut Bob Benkhen before Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-2 mission launch, Friday, April 23, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani) ((NASA/Aubrey Gemignani))

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.

Son says goodbye to mommy astronaut
Son says goodbye to mommy astronaut

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.

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.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide smiles as he talks to family and friends after leaving the operations and checkout building before a launch attempt Friday, April 23, 2021, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Four astronauts will fly on the SpaceX Crew mission to the International Space Station scheduled for launch on April 23, 2021. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

About the Author:

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Emilee hosts the Edward R. Murrow Award-winning podcast Space Curious. Previously, she was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a web producer at the Naples Daily News.