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Space Shuttle at the Space StationTitle Graphic
Personal Space
Kathy LauriniClick for video

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Like many who work on the International Space Station, Laurini feels international cooperation is vital to continued space exploration. "When we all cooperate and work together, we can make it a better facility than any one nation could operating on its own. It's human nature to want to explore and the Russians want to go to Mars, the Europeans want to go to Mars, just like we do. I think that's one of the reasons why I work on the space station with such dedication."

Space Shuttle over the Earth
Kathy Laurini
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Living a Dual Life
Laurini was with NASA ten years before she had children and there was no question that she'd keep working. "I learned I can go to work and give my all to NASA and to the space station program; Windmill in the Netherlands but then, when I go home, I'm there for my children. You have to make sure that your kids are taken care of when you're not with them. And if you do that properly, you have a great sense of peace when you're at work." Laurini's unusual when compared to Dutch women. Most do not work, and if they do not five days a week. Many mothers ask her, "Oh, how can you do it? How can you work five days a week and manage a house and take care of your children?" Once she explains, there's an immediate change of attitude. "They're intrigued by the fact that not only do I go to work, but that I have a career, and that I'm using my time away from my kids to do something as exciting as building a space station that helps mankind."

A Window into Space
The station is uniquely positioned to engage children by helping them think outside of their normal daily environment. "At NASA, we call it 'thinking outside of the box,' but it's really expanding the way they look at the world; challenging what they know to be true," said Laurini. Kathy's SonHopefully, this new awareness will motivate children to pursue scientific or artistic careers. "I believe that future activities in space will be multinational; I think children that adapt easily in multicultural situations will be better positioned to play a role in building the spacecraft of the future, or being the astronauts of the future. They can get along with people from all over the world; they can speak different languages maybe they'd be perfect candidates to send to Mars."

Dream Come True
Go to space? Laurini would love to. Astronaut in SpaceBut with young kids, the hours of training necessary for even a two-week shuttle mission would require too much time away. She'd be happy to take a voucher to go in a few years. Perhaps, then, bringing the kids will be as easy as taking a plane ride (but with a whole different mileage program).

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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