Doug Hurley’s Family: Meet the NASA Astronaut’s Wife, Karen Nyberg, & Son

Doug Hurley & Karen Nyberg

Getty/NASA Doug Hurley & Karen Nyberg

Doug Hurley is one of two astronauts on the Crew Dragon for the historic NASA SpaceX launch. Now he’s returning to Earth on August 2. Read on to learn more about his family, including his wife, Karen Nyberg, and their son.

Doug Hurley is the spacecraft commander for Demo-2. He’s completed two spaceflights after being selected as an astronaut in 2002, NASA shared. He was a pilot and lead robotics operator for STS-127 and STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, in 2011. He was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the Marines before joining NASA.


Hurley’s Wife, Karen Nyberg, Is an Astronaut Too

Karen Nyberg served as an astronaut for 20 years before retiring, and had been in space for 180 days on two missions: one in 2008 with Discovery and one in 2013. She was selected as an astronaut candidate in July 2000 and qualified as a missions specialist after two years of training. She flew to the International Space Station in May 2008. She has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of North Dakota and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

In 2010 she was assigned to another flight but had to be replaced by Col. Michael Good because of a temporary medical condition.  She was assigned a technical role while waiting for a new assignment.

Then in 2013, she was a flight engineer on ISS Expedition 36 and 37, spending 166 days in orbit. On the 50th anniversary of the first spaceshot by a woman, she was one of the only two women in space.

Nyberg is believed to have made the first stuffed animal that was handcrafted in space, Space.com reported. In 2013, she shared the stuffed dinosaur that she had made, uploading the photo on Pinterest. She scavenged material for the stuffed dinosaur from things on the orbital, including a used T-shirt and fabric that lines Russian food containers.

She retired from NASA in March 2020.


Hurley & Nyberg Have a 10-Year-Old Son

NASAStuffed dinosaur that Nyberg made for her son while in space.

According to Hurley’s bio with NASA, he and Nyberg have one child, a son Jack. In 2013, she said that she made the first stuffed animal handcrafted in space — a stuffed dinosaur — for her son. She described herself as a crafter interested in quilting and sewing.

Space.com shared that while she was in space in 2013, she sent videos to Jack every day, while Hurley sent her back photos and videos of Jack.

Nyberg told CBS News that Jack was 18 months old when Hurley was on the Atlantis and he was 3 on her last flight. Now he’s 10 and understands better.

She told CBS: “He’s talked about how proud of his of his dad but you know, I don’t want to talk about being scared or nervous either and have him pick up on that. So we’ll see how it how it goes when the day comes.”

Nyberg and Hurley also have two adorable dogs.


Nyberg Is an Aspiring Artist

Karen Nyberg’s Instagram bio notes that she’s a former astronaut and aspiring artist, along with being a wife and mom. According to her bio, she enjoys painting, drawing, piano, backpacking, and spending time with her family. She shares examples of her work on her Instagram account.


About the Mission

This test flight was an important step in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, whose goal is to ultimately provide safe transportation to and from the International Space Station.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A in Florida for an extended stay at the space station for the Demo-2 mission. This was the final test flight for SpaceX and the first time NASA astronauts test the system in orbit.

After the Crew Dragon lifted off, it accelerated the astronauts to 17,000 mph to intercept with the International Space Station, NASA shared. Once in orbit, the crew verified that the Crew Dragon was performing correctly through maneuvering thrusters and performing other tests. After about 24 hours, the Crew Dragon docked with the space station. After docking, the crew members became members of the Expedition 63 crew and perform tests on the Crew Dragon along with research tasks on the space station. Then they returned to Earth.

This was the final step before NASA certifies the Crew Dragon for long-duration missions to the space station.

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