Luca Parmitano

UT alumna Karen Nyberg (left) landed in Kazakhstan on Sunday after 166 days in space on Expedition 37.

Photo Credit: NASA

Karen Nyberg, NASA astronaut and UT mechanical engineering alumna, landed back on Earth yesterday with Expedition 37. 

Nyberg was the flight engineer for the expedition, which began as Expedition 36 on May 28. Nyberg, along with fellow crew members Fyodor Yurchikhin and Luca Parmitano, separated from the rest of their crew on Expedition 36 and departed from the International Space Station on Sept. 10 to begin Expedition 37. The capsule containing the remaining portion of the crew from Expedition 36 landed in Kazakhstan on Nov. 5. 

Although a journey in space may seem to be a fairly difficult concept to grasp for most of the general population, many believe that Nyberg has brought the journey to Earth with her unusually frequent social media usage while in space. Nyberg tweeted about her experiences while on the expedition, consistently sharing pictures illustrating her journey, which caused her to gain a significantly large social media following.

Trey Curran, Plan II and aerospace engineering freshman, said he was particularly interested by Nyberg’s success as an astronaut. 

“As an [undergraduate] in aerospace engineering, Nyberg’s story serves an inspiration,” Curran said. “She shows, through hard work and determination, that any person can reach the top of their profession, whether it be in aerospace or any other field.”

Karen Nyberg shows off her Longhorn socks on her first mission, STS-124, in 2008. It was on this mission that Nyberg became the 50th woman in space (Photo courtesy of NASA).

UT alumna Karen Nyberg is set to launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:31 p.m. CDT today. 

Nyberg attended graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin's Cockrell School of Engineering and received her master's and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering in 1996 and 1998, respectively. She is a member of the Expedition 36 crew which also includes Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano.

The Expedition 36 crew will be taking a new one-day route to the International Space Station (ISS), attempted only once before by a manned crew during Expediton 35 in March. What was once a two-day journey, will now take the crew about six hours. The crew will dock to the space station at 9:16 p.m., and they will open the hatch and enter the space station at 10:55 p.m. Both events will also be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Nyberg, Yurchikhin and Parmitano will join NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Aleksandr Misurkin for a six month stay aboard the ISS.

You can follow Karen Nyberg on Twitter for mission updates at @AstroKarenN.

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