Family & Parenting

Astronaut’s 4-Year-Old Son Appears With Her In Sweet NASA Portrait Photos

Anne McClain says her son is her inspiration to go to space.

Anne McClain is a lot of things: a NASA astronaut, a decorated US Army Major, a helicopter test pilot, an aerospace engineer with two master’s degrees, and a mom to a little boy.

Recently, the 38-year-old Spokane, Washington native took to Twitter to talk about how her son inspires her to literally reach for the stars, writing, “The hardest part about training for space is the 4 yr old I have to leave behind every time I walk out the door… I try to remember he will grow up and know what it looks like, behind the scenes, to pursue a dream. He is my ‘why.'”

NASA

McClain, who is set to travel to the International Space Station in November, followed up her messages by sharing a set of adorable photographs she took with her 4-year-old son during her NASA spacesuit portrait photo session. Of course, the pictures, and McClain’s sweet message, quickly went viral.

After an onslaught of media attention, McClain ended up deleting her entire Twitter account—but you can still find the pictures online:

One of the photos shows McClain’s son holding her space helmet while she holds a stuffed animal, and another shows him giving her a kiss on the cheek. So sweet!

After the photos went viral, people called the astronaut inspirational. One female Twitter user wrote that she had grown up wanting to be an astronaut, but gave it up because she didn’t think it was possible to have a family and a career in outer space. Other tweets, like the one below, were from moms who wanted to show their support.

It’s unclear why McClain decided to erase her social media presence. McClain was not the first astronaut to pose with a beloved family member during an official spacesuit portrait session. Former astronaut Leland Melvin posed with his two dogs, Jake and Scout, during his 2015 portrait session.

Although McClain doesn’t have a personal Twitter account for the time being, you can keep up with she and her fellow astronauts via the @NASA_Astronauts Twitter handle.