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Randy Bresnik: Astronaut Stuck In Space While Wife Giving Birth

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Atlantis' astronauts anxiously awaited word Friday on the birth of a crewman's daughter as they moved more supplies into the International Space Station and geared up for another spacewalk.

Astronaut Randolph Bresnik was about to become a father for the second time. His wife, Rebecca, was due to give birth any moment in Houston. They already have an adopted 3-year-old son.

Friday was the expected delivery date.

"Unfortunately, we don't have an exact time. I wish I did. It would make our planning a little bit easier," said flight director Brian Smith.

Smith joked: "Don't the doctors and Rebecca realize this is NASA and I've got a very well thought out, well-planned, meticulous timeline and they are not abiding by it."

In a twist, Bresnik is one of two astronauts who will venture outside Saturday morning to work on the space station. Smith said it would be a real-time decision whether to notify Bresnik if his daughter is born during the spacewalk, or to wait until he's back inside the shuttle-station complex.

"Randy is going to be 100 percent focused on this spacewalk," Smith assured reporters. "That's going to be our No. 1 priority is the safe and successful execution of that spacewalk."

Bresnik, 42, a lieutenant colonel in the Marines, was staying abreast of the situation as best he could while orbiting 220 miles above Earth.

Shuttle pilot Barry "Butch" Wilmore said Bresnik was holding up pretty well.

"He's excited about that. So are we," Wilmore said in a broadcast interview. "It's a great thing to share with him in this environment. He certainly wishes timing could have been better."

Another NASA astronaut – Mike Fincke – was on the space station in 2004 when his second child, a girl, was born.

As for celebrating, Wilmore said maybe some gum would be passed around but no cigars. Smoking is prohibited aboard NASA spacecraft for obvious safety reasons.

Mrs. Bresnik, like her husband, works at Johnson Space Center. She is the lead attorney for international law there. The astronaut said before rocketing into orbit Monday that if he had to miss the birth, "this is a pretty good excuse and hopefully she'll forgive me for it later on."

The 12 space travelers got a jump on indoor space station work Friday, taking care of some maintenance and hauling more supplies over from the shuttle.

Atlantis – which delivered tons of spare parts and equipment – will remain at the space station until the day before Thanksgiving. The holiday will be filled with landing preparations.

Shuttle commander Charles Hobaugh said he doesn't have anything "scripted" for Thanksgiving dinner and will make do with whatever is left in the pantry. "I guarantee you we're going to have a fabulous time, one way or another," he said.

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On the Net:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission(underscore)pages/shuttle/main/index.html

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