Local News

Astronaut Sends Family Greetings From Outer Space

Posted December 26, 2005 7:17 a.m. EST

— A lot of people travel long distances for the holidays. But one man who grew up in the Triangle has all of them beat. Astronaut Bill McArthur Jr. is on the International Space Station, hundreds of miles above earth.

NASA video shows how Robeson County native Bill McArthur Jr. spent Thanksgiving. He was on the International Space Station, orbiting earth at 17,000 miles per hour. He spent Christmas the same way.

Some of his relatives still live in North Carolina. He has moved to Houston, but out of sight -- even out of this world -- doesn't mean out of mind. McArthur is 220 miles above earth, and circles the planet 19 times each day. Still, he always keeps in touch.

McArthur calls family members -- sometimes from right over their heads.

"[You] have to realize that the space station is only 220 miles away," said his cousin's wife Faith McArthur. "So, when he's overhead, he's closer than he would be in Atlanta. But he's out of this world."

The conversations only last a few minutes, but the signal isn't bad. McArthur has been in space since October. He plans to return in April. He's on the International Space Station with just one other person -- a Russian flight engineer he knows well.