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Atlantis astronaut's wife gives birth 220 miles below

Astronaut Randy Bresnik, in orbit on a space station supply mission, celebrated the birth of his daughter 220 miles below in Houston, saying "momma and baby are doing very well."

William Harwood
Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He has covered more than 125 shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune, and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia." You can follow his frequent status updates at the CBS News Space page.
William Harwood
3 min read

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Houston--Astronaut Randy Bresnik carried out a spacewalk Saturday awaiting word of the birth of his second child. Responding to a wake-up call from Houston early Sunday, he delivered the news that his wife, Rebecca, had given birth, saying "good morning, Houston. Good morning, Rebecca, good morning, Wyatt, and good morning to our little girl."

"I just wanted to take this opportunity to report some good news," he said later in the morning. "At 11:04 last night, Abigail Mae Bresnik joined the NASA family and momma and baby are doing very well. I'm very thankful for everyone...that's been so supportive and so helpful the last couple of days with everything that's been going on."

Rebecca and Randy Bresnik discussed the pending birth of their daughter in a pre-flight NASA interview. NASA TV

The shuttle crew's wake-up music--chosen by Bresnik's wife--was a song titled "Butterfly Kisses," which starts off with the lyrics: "There's two things I know for sure: She was sent here from heaven and she's daddy's little girl."

For medical reasons, Rebecca Bresnik was scheduled for an induced delivery Friday, two weeks before her December due date. There was no word Friday, and her husband, after participating in a six-hour spacewalk Saturday, presumably went to bed awaiting word of the birth.

"Like most parents, I would prefer to be there at the birth for sure, but we don't pick this timing," he said during a pre-launch NASA interview. "Fortunately, through the wonders of modern technical advancements and our amazing communications systems on the ISS and space shuttle, hopefully I'll be able to see the pictures and maybe talk to her on the IP (internet protocol) phone and see some video shortly thereafter. I'll be home only a few days afterward."

Rebecca said she, too, was "a little disappointed he won't be able to be there, but understanding that we don't choose the timing. I'm excited for him that he's doing what he's doing. He's trained one year for this mission, but really he's been here five, almost six years and I'm just real excited for him, excited for us, and just be gone basically a week beyond her being born."

She said the couple's son Wyatt "thinks he's naming the baby Nemo. He's just ready to be big brother, he's excited about the baby, he's always asking 'when is the baby going to come out and play?'"

"He goes up to her belly button and says 'baby, come out!'" said her husband.

"I say that too, sometimes," she joked.

"The amazing thing about him, you know, a year ago today we hadn't even met him yet," Bresnik said. "Within 48 hours of me being assigned to (shuttle mission) STS-129, we got the call saying we had a date to go to the Ukraine for our adoption.

"So we were over there 40 days last fall adopting him, came back in late December. So we've got this wonderfully happy, healthy little three-and-a-half-year-old boy who's life changed completely and he's gone from being in an orphanage on the other side of the planet to being in the space shuttle simulator here flying with his dad a couple of weeks ago.

"A miracle adoption as well as the miracle of childbirth, all in one year," he said. "We're just amazingly blessed."

Bresnik and his shuttle crewmates are scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center the day after Thanksgiving.