Astronaut Kayla Barron Prepares To Return To Earth

©NASA/ESA

Astronaut Kayla Barron Prepares To Return To Earth

Living and working aboard the International Space Station has been a transformative experience and an extraordinary privilege.

Part of me is ready to come home--I miss my loved ones dearly, and wouldn't mind sipping coffee out of a cup instead of through a straw--but part of me is having a hard time letting go.

As our mission comes to an end, I've been processing a lot of conflicting emotions. But most of all, I feel grateful--grateful for the family, friends, teachers, coaches, and mentors who nurtured my curiosity, taught me to pick myself up when I stumbled and fell, and helped me develop the courage to chase my dreams; grateful for my husband, who loves me unconditionally, and who's unwavering belief in me helps me believe in myself; grateful for the instructors who prepared me so well for this complex mission; grateful for the dedicated flight control teams around the world who are the true experts, without whom we would be lost; and grateful for my crewmates, who have taught me so much about how to be the best version of myself.

As I reflect on this experience and what it means to return home, I've been thinking about transitions a lot. Even though they can be challenging, our gorgeous planet has shown me that transitions also hold their own unique beauty, so here's to honoring an incredible experience by embracing change, and raising our gaze to the horizon and the next adventure.

(Special thanks to Rachel Mayhew for her feedback and encouragement during my space photography journey and Josh Valcarcel for help editing my self-portrait).

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