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She’s home! Astronaut Loral O’Hara returns from space

KU Engineering alumna shares mission highlights.

by Chris Lazzarino

Astronaut Loral O’Hara, e’06, on April 6 returned to Earth after logging 204 days aboard the International Space Station. She was joined by two ISS crewmates on a Soyuz spacecraft that landed in Kazakhstan’s remote plains. Following mandatory medical checks, O’Hara flew back to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, her hometown.

In a news conference two weeks after her return, O’Hara said she missed her ISS crewmates, viewing Earth from the station’s panoramic cupola, and, of course, floating. She also shared that while in space, she craved her morning ritual of a sunrise cup of coffee sipped on her front steps and, most especially, chips and guacamole. “It was my first meal,” O’Hara said of the Tex-Mex staple, “and my second meal and several more lunches.”

O’Hara’s six-month, 86-million-mile mission included a seven-hour spacewalk; scientific research into heart health, cancer treatments and space manufacturing techniques; and, on Feb. 9, a live video conference with KU engineering students.

Floating beneath a small KU flag and her swirl of long Botticellian curls, O’Hara proudly displayed for her audience the cherished stuffed Jayhawk that she had brought along for her journey into space.

“The view from up here is something that I would love for everyone to get to experience,” O’Hara told her fellow ’Hawks. “For me, it’s not really changed my perspective so much as reinforced what an incredibly beautiful and complex and diverse planet we have, seeing it against the blackness of space, and it gives me a sense of urgency to come back down to Earth and play a part in making it better.”

Chris Lazzarino, j’86, is associate editor of Kansas Alumni magazine.

Issue 2, 2024


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