Bob and Doug and their wives Megan Mcarthur and Karen Nyberg met twenty years ago. The four belonged to a select group that started NASA’s astronaut training in the summer of 2000.
Bob and Doug were test pilots in the United States Air Force, Karen is an engineer, and Megan is an oceanographer. All four of them have already been in space.
The careers of Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are quite similar. So both were test pilots. And both have flown in Space Shuttles, but on different missions. Doug Hurley entered space with the last Space Shuttle in 2011.
And it is therefore symbolic that he is now commander of this first all-American space journey in nine years. Bob and Doug are best friends and that is one of the reasons they were chosen for this dangerous mission. They know each other through and through and feel each other flawlessly, as can be seen in the double interview that NASA has posted on YouTube.
It is therefore not surprising that Bob and Doug witnessed each other’s marriage. Marriage to women who are also astronauts. Sixty years ago, that was unimaginable in America: the men went into space and the women had to wait at home. In 1983, Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut (the first woman in space was Russian Valentina Teresjkova, in 1963).
Megan McArthur, Bob Behnken’s wife, flew the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2009. Karen Nyberg, Doug Hurley’s wife, has completed two missions: with a Space Shuttle, but also with a Russian Soyuz rocket.
First woman on the moon?
So the women know exactly what their men are doing. They will closely follow the mission to the International Space Station. It is still unclear how long it will take before they see their men again: it will be a minimum of one month and a maximum of four months.
Karen Nyberg has indicated that she no longer goes into space herself. Megan McArthur still wants to, as long as it is not with her husband Bob Behnken. She is listed as a possible candidate to become the first woman on the moon when NASA returns there in 2024.