Astronaut's baby due during Atlantis flight

November 17, 2009 Randy Bresnik's wife, Rebecca, is about to give birth to their first daughter. She's expected to give birth Friday. She'd been told she'd never be able to have a child, so the couple adopted a son. Her pregnancy was a joyous surprise.

The crew is expected to land back on Earth the day after Thanksgiving, when his infant daughter will already be a week old and give special meaning to the holiday.

Bresnik, whose grandfather was Amelia Earhart's only authorized photographer, is taking up one of the pioneering aviator's scarves.

On loan from the Ninety-Nines Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma City, it was supposedly Earhart's favorite scarf.

Bresnik was chosen as a shuttle pilot in 2004. With shuttle missions winding down, piloting jobs became scarce and his bosses asked him to fly in the back as the flight engineer. He's fine with that.

"If I went as a pilot, I wouldn't be doing spacewalks," he said. He will perform two.

The former fighter pilot doesn't dwell on the risks of spaceflight. He takes comfort from knowing that "nobody's shooting at me" and "there are tens of thousands of people who are professionally doing their jobs, whose sole focus is making sure that these are successful and safe missions."

Bresnik, 42, who's from Santa Monica, Calif., is married to the lead attorney for international law at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Bresnik hopes to hook into the delivery room by phone, through Mission Control. Their son is 3 1/2.

Atlantis blasted off Monday afternoon, carrying six astronauts and a full load of spare parts to the International Space Station. The shuttle will reach the orbiting outpost Wednesday.

The supply run should keep the space station humming for years to come, and the shuttle astronauts will be in space through Thanksgiving. The crew will perform three spacewalks during the 11-day mission.

About 100 Twittering NASA fans were on hand for the launch. They won front-row seats in a contest last month and filed Twitter updates as the countdown unfolded.

This is NASA's last shuttle flight of the year and one of only six remaining. .

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    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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