The question is sparked in part by the "America's favorite dads in space" narrative which accompanies the recent Demo-2 mission, involving astronauts Rob Behnken and Douglas Hurley, as well as their wives and children to some extent.

Based on the assumption that something of noteworthy character happens to the family members on earth (newborn child, accident, virus infection), what is the notification policy/procedure? Will the astronauts be informed immediately, or only once the mission is completed?

Google hits mostly converge to the reversed situation, i.e. something happening to the astronauts themselves.

I am looking for general answers, not just the recent Demo-2 mission.


2 Answers 2


They would be informed immediately, and have been in the past.

Space Station Astronaut Dan Tani was informed over private radio channel last night that his mother was killed in a car accident.

Astronaut's Mom Dies in Car Wreck While He is in Space

(December 2007)

(Some sources say that this is a pre-mission choice per crewmember)

  • $\begingroup$ The book is a great source, thank you! $\endgroup$
    – pat3d3r
    Jun 3, 2020 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ Given astronauts have social media and email it seems unlikely that there is an option to 'opt out' of news like that anymore. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jun 3, 2020 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ @GdD agreed. Just included it for completeness. $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2020 at 11:16

As Organic Marble already pointed out here:

Astronauts would be informed immediately.

I'd like to add to that:

Generally there is nothing that prevents communication from astronauts to their families. There is an internet connection on the ISS and it is not censored for astronauts.

The only constraint that there is it the direction of the communication: Astronauts' families cannot call astronauts directly from earth. Instead, the astronauts have to initiate calls (source: Astronaut Tracy Dyson on video, 2010).

Thus, family members could not immediately call their astronaut family member - they would either have to wait until they're called - or call the astonauts through the space agency (or let them forward the information).



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