It's a Girl: Astronaut's Daughter Delivered While Dad in Space

Shuttle astronaut Randy Bresnik 200 miles up while wife Rebecca has baby.

November 20, 2009, 4:44 PM

Nov. 22, 2009 — -- NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik is over the moon.

Shortly after making his first ever spacewalk, Bresnik, 42, experienced another first: His wife gave birth to a baby girl back in Texas while he orbited 200 miles above the earth.

Baby Abigail was born at 11:04 p.m. CT Saturday.

After the birth, Bresnik said he was "very thankful for everyone there at Mission Control and everywhere else at NASA that's been so supportive and essentially so helpful the last couple days with everything that's been going on," according to The Associated Press.

Throughout his mission, Bresnik received regular updates on his wife Rebecca's condition -- except during his six-hour spacewalk Saturday, when Mission Control thought it was best to let him concentrate on the risky venture.

Mission Control responded with "heartfelt congratulations," the AP reported, adding, "Thanks for recognizing the significant accomplishments on Earth that happened while you guys were working hard on your challenging mission in orbit."

Bresnik and his wife Rebecca are already the proud parents of three-year-old Wyatt, whom they adopted from the Ukraine just before Christmas last year.

Now Wyatt has a baby sister. Bresnik will meet his new daughter after Atlantis lands next week; it's currently scheduled to end its mission the day after Thanksgiving.

Bresnik, a Marine officer, is an experienced combat pilot, and he knows he has plenty of company with the soldiers who are serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan who can't be home when their wives give birth either. He took pains to say he doesn't feel sorry for himself -- just longing that he couldn't be there for this special event.

It is a weekend of big firsts for Bresnik -- he did his first spacewalk Saturday, performing maintenance on the International Space Station.

Bresnik and his wife Rebecca had been told by doctors the odds of her getting pregnant were a million to one. This past February those odds were in her favor, when she found out she was pregnant, and then learned they were expecting a baby girl.

They did the math, and found out their daughter would probably be born while Randy was in space. He had been assigned last year to his first space mission, on the shuttle Atlantis, scheduled for this month.

Rebecca joked, "Couldn't they change the date?"

She knew better. NASA spends a great deal of time and money training astronauts for each mission, so much as Randy would have liked to be on Earth, he knew it wasn't going to happen.

All week long the astronauts in Mission Control who communicate with the crews on orbit have been taking special care of Bresnik. During a television transmission from space, astronaut Megan McArthur told him from Houston to "wave at the camera -- there are some special people in the viewing room here for you."

It's a Girl: Baby Born While Dad in Space

Bresnik disappeared from view Friday -- while Mission Control kept an air-to-ground loop available so he could be in touch with his wife while she was in labor.

He has plenty of moral support up there circling the earth. Several of his colleagues are fathers and Nicole Stott, returning home on Atlantis after 91 days on the space station, is a mom, as well.

This isn't the first time an astronaut has coached his wife through labor from earth orbit. Astronaut Mike Fincke was on the International Space Station in 2004 when his wife went to the hospital in Houston. He talked with her by radio while the space station orbited 225 miles above Earth, and welcomed a baby daughter, Tarali Paulina.

ABC News' Todd Connor and Kate Santichen contributed to this report.

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