Karen L. Nyberg
Growing up with a drive to be an astronaut, Dr. Karen Nyberg kept that goal in mind while attending college at the University of North Dakota as she also worked as part of a cooperation education program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
After graduating with a BS in mechanical engineering she continued her education at the University of Texas at Austin earning MS and doctorate degrees . She began working at the Johnson Space Center full time as an Environmental Control Systems Engineer in the Crew and Thermal Systems Division. Selected for the astronaut program in 2000 she began a rigorous two year training and evaluation process after which she was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Station Operations branch and acted as crew support for a mission to the International Space Station.
In May 2008 she was part of the crew of the STS-124 space shuttle flight aboard the Discovery and traveled to the ISS, docking with the station on June 2 to deliver an experiment module and a remote manipulator system.
During this mission the crew helped install parts of the station as it was still under construction, returning to Earth after 13 days in orbit. In May 2013 she returned to the ISS, this time aboard a Soyuz capsule for an extended period of time, spending nearly six months in space.
During her stay on the ISS she participated in general maintenance as well as numerous scientific research projects. One of the programs she worked with was the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites – or SPHERES – three space-based satellites used as a research facility for interchangeable experiments onboard the gravity free environment of the space station. Nyberg was investigating the use of a ring around the sphere that could act as a wireless charging device for the satellite for potential applications in full size satellite systems.
After spending 180 days in space Dr. Nyberg shares some advice for those thinking about a future as an astronaut: “Start now. Start doing things that take you out of your comfort zone and always be your best.”
Written by Angela Goad