Follow Dr. Kjell Lindgren to the International Space Center

Listen to Healthy Matters on WCCO Radio Sunday, August 2 at 7:30 AM when Dr. Brunette discusses his trip to Kazakhstan. 

Dr. Douglas Brunette was invited by his former student, astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren, to watch his launch to the International Space Center from the Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, July 22. Here are some of the daily posts Dr. Brunette is sending from his trip.

We watched the docking with the ISS live, followed by the hatch opening. It was great. Kristi (Kjells wife) and their kids had a live video conversation that was great to witness.

6:03 PM  Launch was absolutely beautiful.

Not a cloud in the sky. The ISS passed directly overhead, and 30 seconds later the rocket lit up to go and chase it. Deafening sound, lit up the pitch black sky, physically rattled your chest.

launch 7/22

launch 7/22

We were able to track it all the way to loss of second stage rockets, which meant they were in space. Then we toasted Russian vodka…

We leave for Mission Control in a couple of hours to watch the docking with the ISS and then the hatch opening to greet Kjell aboard the ISS.

Per Kjells recommendation, I did not photo the launch. He told me to sit back and enjoy it, which is what I did. It will be available on

Launch was textbook with the exception of one solar array that did not deploy, which is a minor issue that can be dealt with after they dock.

Dr. Matt Herold, Dr. Douglas Brunette

Dr. Matt Herold, Dr. Douglas Brunette

Matt Herold is the person in the photo with me, an HCMC classmate of Kjell.

Dr. Lindgren saying goodbye to his children.

Dr. Lindgren saying goodbye to his children.

10:46 AM I have so much to write, but very little time. Attached are photos of the crew getting onto the bus that will be taking them to the launch site.

One of these photos is Kjell from inside the bus making his hands into a heart for his children, telling them he loves them.

One tradition is for each astronaut to plant a tree. There is impressive walkway of trees dating back to the first person in space, Yuri Gagarin. Kjells tree is obviously small and has a lot of growing to do!

7:46 AM Update since my recent last post. Typical Kjell…just hours from being hurled into space he sends me a very personal email the content of which I will mostly keep to myself.

However, he specifically stated he is extremely grateful for the support and interest that HCMC has demonstrated during these last few months, and considers himself humbled and privileged to have trained at HCMC, and thanks everyone for their support.

7:29 AM
Just a few hours left until launch!

It has been a clear, no clouds in the sky day, which should make for a beautiful launch. We will wave to Kjell when he exits the Cosmonaut Hotel, which is next to our hotel within the Cosmonaut Space Center.  We drive to Building 254 which is near the launch site (I think that’s the number), and again wave to Kjell when he exits wearing his full spacesuit en route to the launch pad.

At around midnight we apparently will be having a feast of a dinner meal before the 3am launch. Kjell will be spending close to 3 hours on his back in a fetal position, wearing his spacesuit, going through a very long pre-launch checklist.

We will be outside to watch the launch, approximately 0.7 miles from the launch pad. NASA shuttle launch viewing was from 3 miles, so this should be quite a show!

Post launch I think I will have some time to email photos before we go to Mission Control for watching the docking to the ISS and hatch opening.

Hope all is well. I have decided I would rather live on the frozen tundra (Minnesota) than the searing desert plains…

Low key day today. Toured space museum, lots of interesting fun facts, but hard to understand many exhibits as they were in Russian.

International press conference held tonight. There were several hundred reporters present. Astronauts behind glass in quarantine.

I am not sure when I will get to email you again. We leave for launch site tomorrow at 8pm our time (9am your time). Launch is at 3:00am our time (4 pm your time). After launch, we drive to Mission Control to watch the docking to the International Space Station at approximately 9am our time (10pm your time). We stay at Mission Control to watch the hatch opening and the astronauts board the International Space Station at approximately 10:30am(11:30pm your time).  Kjell will be able to communicate with us at Mission Control when he boards the ISS.  We then pack and go to the airport to travel back to Moscow.

So internet access will be a problem for me tomorrow. If I cant send anything, I will report in the day after the launch.


Dr. Lindgren, Oleg Kononenko, and Kimiya Yui

Great and fascinating day. Got up early to see the rocket roll out of the hangar. It was placed horizontally onto a train, and moved about 0.5 miles to the launch site. We were 10 yards away from the railroad tracks when it passed. Unbelievable sight.

Went to the launch site, and it was raised vertically into blast off position, where  we stood just a few yards away.

Then had a private meeting with Kjell. Just his family (mom, dad, sister, his kids, and Matt and myself) . Kjell was behind glass partition re: quarantine. We met with him for an hour. It was funny at times, very emotional at times for all in the room. It was a wonderful hour.

Low key day tomorrow. Visiting the Cosmonaut Museum, attending press conference.

The launch is 3 am Kazakhstan time on July 23rd, and we are 11 hours ahead of you. So launch for you will be 4 pm Wednesday, July 22nd.

We will be up for 30 straight hours or so on launch day. More on that later.

Day 3. Long day. Left hotel at 5am to airport for three hour flight into Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It is about 100F today. It is a desert, at least the part of the country that we are in. We are staying at the Sputik Hotel.

Kristi Lindgren and Kjell’s parents are going to see Kjell tonight. They will get to see him one more time about 5 hours before launch. None of the rest of us are allowed to see him.

We get up again early tomorrow, I think around 5am to go watch the rocket rollout of the hanger and head to the launch pad.

The airplane we flew in and a view of the terrain right before we landed:

We went to Star City today, which is where the astronauts and cosmonauts train. Fascinating. We also ate ISS freeze dried food – not so good…

We skyped with Kjell today — he is ready to go. We leave on 3-hour flight tomorrow morning to Kazakhstan.

Attached are some photos of the capsule that Kjell will be sitting on his back in during launch. Quite small a space. This is the training capsule, just like the real deal.

Arrived yesterday morning in Moscow after overnight flight.


St. Basil Basilica

Took a tour with our NASA astronaut guides of Red Square (see photo of St. Basil Basilica, built by Ivan the Terrible).

Went to dinner last night with Kjell’s parents and sister, and communicated with Kjell via email from the dinner table.

Kjell is in quarantine, so he does not get ill before launch. Everything is still a go. Kjell puts on his spacesuit today and climbs aboard the rocket capsule to get another feel of it.

We are traveling to Star City, Russia, about one hour outside of Moscow today. It is where NASA astronauts train in Russia.

Tomorrow we have an early chartered NASA flight, 3 hours, to Baikonur, Kazakhstan where the launch will take place at 3am local time on July 23rd.

HCMC-trained MD Astronaut Kjell Lindgren launches to International Space Station next week

official Expedition 44 crew portrait. Soyuz 42 (Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko, Scott Kelly) and Soyuz 43 (Oleg Kononenko, Kimiya Yui and Kjell Lindgren).

Official Expedition 44 crew portrait. Soyuz 42 (Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko, Scott Kelly) and Soyuz 43 (Oleg Kononenko, Kimiya Yui and Kjell Lindgren).

Excitement is building at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) as they count down the days to NASA’s Expedition 44/45 launch on Wednesday, July 22. The Soyuz spacecraft will carry a crew to the International Space Station that includes astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD who completed his medical residency in HCMC’s Emergency Department where he was also Chief Resident.

Dr. Lindgren (far left)  and crew.

Dr. Lindgren (far left) and crew.

Dr. Lindgren will serve as flight engineer for this mission, which was originally scheduled to launch on May 25, but was delayed after an unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft failed to reach the International Space Station (ISS) on April 30. An investigation into the malfunction had to take place before Expedition 44/45’s launch could be rescheduled.

Dr. Doug Brunette

Dr. Doug Brunette

“Of course we were concerned about Kjell’s mission after hearing about the Progress 59P problem,” explains Dr. Douglas Brunette, referring to the cargo spacecraft that eventually burned up after re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. “But it’s better to be safe and wait until the cause of the problem was figured out, and we had every confidence that the launch would be rescheduled.”

Dr. Brunette supervised Dr. Lindgren’s medical training in the Emergency Department, and he was invited by Dr. Lindgren to be his guest in Kazakhstan to watch the launch from the Cosmodrome.

“I feel so honored that Kjell asked me to be there. Of course it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, but to see my former resident – whom I now consider a friend and colleague – fulfill his dreams of being an astronaut, it’s just so exciting,” said Dr. Brunette, who leaves for Kazakhstan on July 16.

Hospital employees are counting down the days to the launch with posts on social media and even a Russian-themed menu in the cafeteria. For more information about NASA’s Expedition 44/45 as they prepare for their launch, go to:

Internationally recognized neurosurgeon Dr. Uzma Samadani joins HCMC

SAMADANI_UZMA_photoDr. Uzma Samadani, whose research on concussion recently made headlines around the world, is joining the Department of Neurosurgery at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), a nationally recognized Level I Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center that specializes in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries. She will serve as the Rockswold Kaplan Chair for Traumatic Brain Injury Research, and also be appointed an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota. Continue reading

Partnership fills food and nutrition needs during summer months

Hennepin County Medical Center and Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless Announce Sixth Annual Food Shelf Challenge Grant

The Hennepin Health Foundation of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless announce the Sixth Annual Food Shelf Challenge Grant. Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless will proportionally match donations to the Food Shelf @ HCMC during the month of July, up to $5,000. In 2014, Minnesota food shelves raised over $1,000,000 with this grant and hope to raise even more this year. Continue reading

U of M wrestlers visit 8 y.o. wrestler grappling with burns

Tyler Schultz’ wrestling teammates in South Dakota are pulling for his speedy recovery – but a little extra “muscle” can’t hurt!

On Monday, Jumeetingne 15, four members of the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gopher Wrestling Team stopped by to meet Tyler and offer encouragement as he receives treatment for 3rd degree burns in Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) Burn Center.

Sam Brancale, Josh Shupe, Zane Zeman and Nate Thomas brought Tyler a poster signed by the entire team and visited with the young wrestler and his parents. The event was covered by WCCO 4 News sports reporter Dave McCoy and aired Tuesday, June 16.

Tyler and Gopher Group

Sam Brancale, Josh Shupe, Zane Zeman, Tyler Schultz, Nate Thomas

Angie Whitley and Tyler

Angie Whitley and Tyler

“He’s such a strong kid and he’s made remarkable progress,” explains Angie Whitley, RN, one of the many nurses Tyler has won over during his 45-day stay at HCMC. “Having these wrestlers take time out of their busy schedules to stop by and visit Tyler is so very much appreciated – and I think they enjoyed it, too! Encouragement and hope is a vital part of the healing process for patients recovering from burns.”

In a few weeks, Tyler (who wrestles at 50 pounds) heads back to his hometown near Aberdeen, SD soon where he’ll continue therapy on an outpatient basis.

Eden Prairie’s Sam Brancale (junior) wrestles at 125 and 133 lbs. Josh Shupe (senior) from Marshfield, WI, wrestles at 141 lbs. Nate Thomas (sophomore) is from Mantorville, MN and wrestles at 133 lbs. Zane Zeman (junior) is from Avon, Ohio and wrestles at 157 lbs.

(Left to right) Nate Thomas (sophomore) is from Mantorville, MN and wrestles at 133 lbs. Josh Shupe (senior) from Marshfield, WI, wrestles at 141 lbs. Eden Prairie’s Sam Brancale (junior) wrestles at 125 and 133 lbs. Zane Zeman (junior) is from Avon, Ohio and wrestles at 157 lbs.

Pinwheels for Prevention Award given to Mother-Baby Program

Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) Mother-Baby Program‘s Day Hospital was recently recognized for its commitment to the prevention of child maltreatment through collaborative public, private, non-profit and local services effort by the Minnesota Communities Caring for Children (MCCC).

The Mother-Baby Program opened in 2013. It was the first program of its kind in Minnesota, offering a range of mental health services to support women and families.

Each year, MCCC presents these Pinwheels for Prevention awards to community leaders in an effort to raise awareness about their innovative programs and to encourage continued investment in prevention and family strengthening efforts statewide. The pinwheel is a national symbol of child abuse and neglect prevention awareness. Over 225 Pinwheel Awards have been presented since 2003. Continue reading

Countdown to NASA launch begins with HCMC-trained astronaut aboard

UPDATE: Dr. Kjell Lindgren’s launch to the International Space Station (ISS) was delayed after a problem occurred involving an unmanned cargo spacecraft delivering supplies to the ISS.  The investigation into what caused the problem is now completed – and the ISS launch has been rescheduled for July 22!

Dr. Kjell Lindgren credits his emergency medicine training at HCMC to preparing him for his space launch.

16101545838_76bedf4c47_zStaff at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis are counting down the days until the launch of Expedition 45 crew members to the International Space Station in July when they’ll see their student, colleague and friend fulfill his dream of space travel.

NASA astronaut and former Chief Emergency Medicine Resident Dr. Kjell Lindgren will take his medical and aerospace training with him aboard a Soyuz spacecraft that will fly from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan to the International Space Station on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Dr. Lindgren and his Expedition 45 colleagues will remain on the Space Station until November 2015.

Dr. Lindgren completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at HCMC in 2005, where he appreciated the opportunity to train in a Level I Trauma Center with one of the most sought-after programs in the country. He is currently assigned as a flight engineer with Expedition 44/45.

“The training I received in the HCMC Emergency Medicine residency program provided me with a suite of skills that I still use today,” explains Dr. Lindgren.

In fact, he thinks it’s great training ground for spaceflight.

“The environment can be stressful, teamwork is critical, the job can be mundane one moment and high stakes the next, the breadth of knowledge required is intimidating, and the coffee is not always great.”

Hennepin County Medical Center is a nationally recognized Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center with the largest emergency department in Minnesota. The comprehensive academic medical center and public teaching hospital includes a 472-bed acute care hospital as well as primary care and specialty clinics located in downtown Minneapolis its surrounding communities.

See YouTube video about Dr. Lindgren and his crew.

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