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Veteran Astronaut Karen Nyberg Retires from NASA


Veteran Astronaut Karen Nyberg Retires from NASA

After nearly 30 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center supporting human spaceflight, including 20 years as an astronaut and two spaceflights totaling 180 days in space, Astronaut Karen Nyberg is retiring from NASA. Her last day is March 31.  

Nyberg is from Vining, Minnesota. She received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of North Dakota, and master’s and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She was selected as an astronaut in 2000, flew on one space shuttle mission, and was a member of one International Space Station long-duration expedition.

“Karen has been an important part of the astronaut corps for many years. Her teamwork and leadership skills have made her a great astronaut, a dear colleague, and a mentor to many,” said Pat Forrester, chief of the Astronaut Office at Johnson. “I have so much respect for her and I appreciate all that she has contributed to the space program. I am sorry to see her go but wish her the best in the next chapter of her life.”

Nyberg started at Johnson as an intern in 1991 and worked in a variety of areas. She holds a patent for work done on the Robot Friendly Probe and Socket Assembly. After her astronaut selection and initial training in 2000, she was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office’s Station Operations Branch where she served as a crew support astronaut for the Expedition 6 crew during its six‐month mission aboard the International Space Station.

On May 31, 2008, Nyberg launched on the space shuttle Discovery with the STS-124 crew to the space station to deliver the Japanese Experiment Module‐Pressurized Module and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System.

Nyberg flew to the space station again as a flight engineer for Expedition 36/37 on May 28, 2013. Nyberg and her crewmates spent 166 days in orbit, participating in hundreds of research experiments in the areas of physical science, technology, education, medicine and more. She also generated interest around the world by posting on social media including how to wash your hair in space, quilting in space, and being a mom while in space. She completed that mission and landed on Nov. 10, 2013.


Megan Sumner
Johnson Space Center, Houston