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Drew Morgan, traveled to the International Space Station on July 20.He joined Nick Hague and Ovchinin, who finally made it there March 14, and three other astronauts and cosmonauts.
The family support system quickly shifts gears," Stacey said.
From then on, it's very similar to preparing for a deployment, they said.
They opened the first bag of parts when he reached orbit and have been methodically opening bags of the 7,500-piece set each week, giving them something to show their father and talk about when they video-chat with him each week.
The boys are saving the final piece for Nick to add when he gets home.
Catie Hague, had just watched her husband blast to space and waited an agonizing 45 minutes with the couple's two sons, then ages 8 and 11, before learning he was OK.
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It's those moments -- the very public broadcasts of launch, landing and spacewalks, when astronauts are at their most vulnerable -- that set space deployments apart from Earthly assignments, even combat deployments, according to Catie Hague and Stacey Morgan, whose husband, Army Col.As with pre-deployment prep, quality time with the departing family member is limited, because he or she is working and training nearly around the clock.Fortunately, they said, unit support also ramps up, with NASA ensuring that family members have the resources and support they need for a long separation."The first week, we figured out that video chats with everyone on the couch was an epic fail. Then there are all those consequences of separation that military families can relate to -- the missed anniversaries and birthdays, graduations, first baby steps, the loss of a baby tooth, a first date.They also are learning that the differences between a space deployment and other Earthly assignments can be mind-boggling, including the chance of spotting your loved one's ship as it zooms around the planet 16 times a day, the opportunity to watch them at work on the NASA channel, the sheer terror of the launch and landing, and the daily anxiety.Movies such as "Gravity," "Apollo 13" and "The Martian" are not watched in a household with an astronaut in space."It's a constant underlying, nerve-racking experience the whole time.But we consider ourselves military families who are assigned to NASA. NASA photo Catie and Nick Hague met in 1996 when they were both cadets at the U. Air Force Academy and were married four years later. Nick deployed to Iraq in 2004; Drew deployed to Iraq once, Afghanistan twice and several countries in Africa twice.Just like the military lifestyle, the astronaut lifestyle is hard on the family," Catie said. Catie also has experienced the range of emotions of a combat deployment, having left her husband and a one-year-old at home when she was assigned to Iraq for a year. So, that was probably the hardest deployment," Catie said in an interview with NASA's "Houston, We Have a Podcast." They now know that the stress of those deployments prepared them well for the future -- the nerve-wracking process of astronaut selection, the elation of being chosen, the realization of a permanent duty station in Houston, the wait for a flight assignment, and the reality of a pending deployment to space."What an amazing thing that we get to experience," Stacey said, "like the fact that [our husbands] are looking down at Earth from a perspective less than 550 people on the planet have ever experienced. "When you get to Houston, it's a lot like being in garrison.I mean, you have resources available to you, but you are living your everyday life. Everything changes the day you get flight-assigned.