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 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.
“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: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/