Raising an astronaut: Anne McClain’s mom reflects on her journey to space

Raising an astronaut: Anne McClain’s mom reflects on her journey to space
NASA

Becoming an astronaut has long been a childhood dream for many. For most, it’s always been just that — a dream. But not for Spokane native Anne McClain, who first told her mother Charlotte Lamp about her dream when she was just three years old.

“She looked up at me, I can still remember she had her lunchbox in her hand. She looked up at me, she said, ‘mommy, I’m going to school to learn to be an astronaut,” Charlotte remembers. “And so, I looked at her and said, ‘honey, you can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be, you’ll just have to put your mind to it.'”

For Charlotte, it was important to see her daughter pursue her passion — whatever it was.

“I was raised in the 50s, when women didn’t get to do things. And that’s why I was going to be sure my daughter could do anything she wanted to do,” she says.

Years down the line, Anne did just that. McClain, once a student at Gonzaga Prep, is now a NASA astronaut who took flight in the Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan with two other astronauts at the beginning of the month. Her mom was there to watch in awe — and anxiety.

“I had been told, thank goodness, that there’s about 8 seconds of fire that comes out before the rocket actually goes up,” she says. “So when I saw the firelight underneath it, I decided, I’ll count back from 10 and if I get to 0, then there’s trouble, and if I don’t, everything’s fine.”

She describes the moment as “indescribable,” which is also the word she uses when she thinks of her daughter following her dreams to space. Now aboard the International Space Station, Anne and Charlotte aren’t letting time and space come in between their bond. Charlotte says they email everyday and when Anne calls, she drops everything.

“When you talk to her you can just hear the joy in her voice,” Charlotte tells KXLY in an exclusive interview. “She says, ‘I was born to be here.'”

And isn’t that what any parent wants? For their kids to be happy, doing what they love? For Charlotte, it’s indescribable. She says she’s just proud her daughter is pursuing her passion — a passion that just so happens to be being an astronaut.

“I wish I could figure out how to stow away and go up there,” Charlotte says.

McClain is on a six-month mission, so Charlotte expects her to touch down on Earth at the beginning of June. In the meantime, she’s keeping an eye on an app on her phone that tells her where the ISS is flying, in hopes of catching a glimpse of her daughter in space.

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