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Kevin Wallevand, Forum News Service, Published November 09 2013

Astronaut from Minnesota to start return Sunday

After six months in space, astronaut and University of North Dakota alumna Karen Nyberg is on the homestretch of her long stay at the International Space Station.

The Vining, Minn., native will make her decent home Sunday.

It is a “full house” up there right now with a total of nine astronauts.

On Friday, as Nyberg prepared for her return, she spoke from orbit with reporters on the ground.

“It is going to be a wild ride home, and a lot of fun, but more than anything I am looking forward to seeing my husband and my son,” she said.

Besides NASA experiments and daily space station work, Nyberg has quite the following now. Her photos of Earth posted on Twitter have been seen by thousands, including her 90,000 followers on the social network website.

And there is her global Pinterest fans who loved her homemade projects cut and sewed in space, like a dinosaur for her son made of a Velcro-like fabric that lines Russian food containers found on the station. She has 4,300 followers on that website.

“It actually took me a lot time to get momentum to get things made,” she said. “Finally the day Cygnus (a resupply spacecraft) was supposed to arrive, we had a whole day and that is when I created the dinosaur for him.”

Right now, Nyberg is working alongside eight other astronauts at the space station, all men. But like the pioneer women who first came to space before her, she said she simply enjoys the opportunity and the amazing workplace called space.

“These guys are like brothers for me,” she said. “I have been in the mechanical engineering field and usually I am accustomed to that, so these guys are great.”

Nyberg is scheduled to land Sunday night in Kazakhstan and then home to Houston.