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NES Video Chat With NASA Astronaut Michael J. Foreman
November 8, 2010
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[image-48]NASA Explorer Schools invited K-12 students across the United States to participate in a webchat with astronaut and veteran spacewalker Mike Foreman. The event took place on Nov. 22, 2010. Foreman answered questions about his spacewalking experiences, living and working in the microgravity environment of space, and his unique career path from high school through astronaut training.


Astronaut and veteran spacewalker Mike Foreman flew aboard space shuttle Endeavour on STS-123 in March 2008 and space shuttle Atlantis on STS-129 in November 2009. He has logged over 637 hours in space, including 32 hours and 19 minutes during five spacewalks.

Foreman received his Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He retired from the Navy in June 2009. Foreman has logged over 6,000 hours in more than 50 different aircraft.

Career Resources
› Careers in Aerospace   →
› Careers in Earth Science  →
› Careers at NASA: Grades 5-8
› Careers at NASA: Grades 9-12
› Women of NASA  →

Spacesuit Resources
› Spacesuits and Spacewalks
› Interactive Spacesuit Experience
› The NASA Spacesuit

Working in Microgravity Resources
› Station Spacewalk Game

Chat Transcript

Hello and welcome! The NES chat with astronaut and veteran spacewalker Mike Foreman is now open. Foreman will answer questions about his spacewalking experiences, living and working in the microgravity environment of space, and his unique career path from high school through astronaut training. Questions asked during the live event will be answered on-air as time allows.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) What is the most challenging part of a spacewalk?
Mike-Foreman (A) Probably the training for the spacewalk is the most difficult because it requires many hours working in that suit in the big pool in Houston.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) What were you trying to accomplish through your spacewalk?
Mike-Foreman (A) Each of my five spacewalks had different goals, some spacewalks were to construct the International Space Station, some were to add additional parts on the outside of the space station like antennas.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) Did you see the city you grew up in from space?
Mike-Foreman (A) I did see my hometown Wadsworth, OH at nighttime on my first mission. I could see the lights of my hometown that is close proximity to Cleveland and Akron.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) How many other people did you spacewalk with at once?
Mike-Foreman (A) Space walks are done in pairs. I have done 5 space walks and have had 4 different partners.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) How do you use the bathroom
Mike-Foreman (A) Very carefully. It's challenging because in weightlessness we don't want to make a mess and have to clean it up so we practice in a bathroom simulator in Houston.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) How do you sleep
Mike-Foreman (A) We have sleeping bags that we attach to the wall or the ceiling. Then we float into our sleeping bag and try to go to sleep, but it's hard because you are just floating. It doesn't feel right because you don't have a bed pressing up against you or a pillow.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) How do you eat and drink
Mike-Foreman (A) We eat and drink like on Earth except we have to be careful that the food does not float away while eating.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) How many years did you have to train to be an astronaut?
Mike-Foreman (A) I was selected as an astronaut in 1998 and flew my first mission in 2008. I trained for 10 years.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) What things did you see while you were in space?
Mike-Foreman (A) We see different views of Earth. The pictures we take are so beautiful. The colors of the pictures do not do the views justice. We also see stars and moon.

discovery (Q) Hi! Is there a video of you in action we can show the kids before the chat!?
Mike-Foreman (A) I think there are videos on You Tube if you search my name and sts-123 and sts-129.

Guillermo_VENEZUELA (Q) My greetings from Venezuela! what was your first words or reflection the 1rst time you watched Earth from space
Mike-Foreman (A) It was awe and inspiring.

Mrs_Kirklands_Class (Q) Did you see any space rocks?
Mike-Foreman (A) I did not see any space rocks, but during my space walks I did see little tiny dents from space rocks that have hit the outside of the space station

Mrs_Kirklands_Class (Q) Did you bring anything back from space?
Mike-Foreman (A) ...just great memories.

Mrs_Kirklands_Class (Q) Why do astronauts go into space?
Mike-Foreman (A) To discover new things and explore

Mrs_Lands_Class (Q) have you walked on the moon and how can you do it
Mike-Foreman (A) No, I have only been to the ISS (International Space Station)

Mrs_Lands_Class (Q) how old were you when you first went into space
Mike-Foreman (A) I was 50 years old the first time I went into space.

Mt_Jefferson (Q) Was your family proud of you when you went to space?
Mike-Foreman (A) Yes, they were very excited and proud.

ASTROBOY (Q) How do you describe micro gravity
Mike-Foreman (A) It's a great sensation where you just float inside the shuttle.

ASTROBOY (Q) How do you describe micro gravity?
Mike-Foreman (A) It's a great sensation where you just float inside the shuttle.

Mrs_Kirklands_Class (Q) Did you see the moon, is so, what did it look like?
Mike-Foreman (A) We can see the moon very well from space. It was a little brighter than we see it down here. Since we are up in space, we didn't have the Earth's atmosphere to look thru so it was a clearer and brighter from up there

Mrs_Lands_Class (Q) what do you eat?
Mike-Foreman (A) Some of it is dehydrated so we have to add water, some looks like the food soldiers eat. It is all very good.

Mrs_Kirklands_Class (Q) How far out into space did you go?
Mike-Foreman (A) 220 miles above Earth, which is the altitude of the International Space Station.

Mrs_Kirklands_Class (Q) Did you see any of the planets, if so, which ones?
Mike-Foreman (A) I didn't see any planets, but I did see something the northern lights.

Mrs_Lands_Class (Q) what do you do for fun in space
Mike-Foreman (A) Well, looking out the window is fun. We also sometimes play sports, like with a football, or talk to our families from space.

Montessori (Q) hello
Mike-Foreman (A) Hi there. Do you have any questions for me?

Michel_Fr (Q) What are you feeling when you are in space?
Mike-Foreman (A) Well the weightlessness is very interesting, it's hard to describe, you are floating around and you're having a good time.

Mrs_Lands_Class (Q) How do you take showers?
Mike-Foreman (A) There are no showers, we use wet wipes.

ccs4thgrade (Q) How do you eat in microgravity?
Mike-Foreman (A) Just like on Earth, but in space we have to worry about our food floating away while we are eating it.

ASTROBOYs (Q) How would you describe your micro gravity experience
Mike-Foreman (A) It's like going over the top of a roller coaster, and your stomach floats up. This feeling lasts 12 to 16 days.

Mrs_Lands_Class (Q) is it fun floating in space
Mike-Foreman (A) Yes, lots of fun, I wish I were floating right now.

JAS (Q) How long did it take to build the space station?
Mike-Foreman (A) Well, we stated building it in 1998 and we still have 2 more missions to complete it. It has taken us close to 12 years.

tgirgla (Q) when you were in high school, did you plan your future with the mindset that you would be an astronaut, or did you not know then that that was what you wanted to do?
Mike-Foreman (A) I wanted to be an astronaut since I was 8 or 9 years old, so even before high school I knew that's what I wanted to do.

Montessori (Q) why did you want to go to space?
Mike-Foreman (A) I knew it would be fun.

Guillermo_VENEZUELA (Q) I want to be part of NASA like almost everybody but what should be the first thing id have to do?
Mike-Foreman (A) Study hard in science, technology and math.

Mrs_Lands_Class (Q) does it feel weird when you take off
Mike-Foreman (A) It feels like a car wreck and you are being hit from behind. You are being propelled into space and it lasts about 8 ½ minutes. You are launch into space from 0 to 17,500 MPH within that time.

Mooseman (Q) What are the tethers made out of when you go on a spacewalk?
Mike-Foreman (A) They are made of steel cables so that we can't possibly float away from the Space Station.

Dell_Conagher (Q) How do you manage to keep up with the news and discussion of your other interests while keeping the packed schedule of astronaut training?
Mike-Foreman (A) Astronaut training takes a long time, sometimes we have to set aside our other interest while we focus on our astronaut training.

Dell_Conagher (Q) Could you describe your, or the average astronauts, regular exercise routine while preparing for a mission? Are there strength or endurance requirements while training? If so, do different crew activity assignments have different requirements?
Mike-Foreman (A) I try to work out every day for about an hour, doing some form of cardiovascular exercise. Yes, there are strength and endurance requirements. While training for a mission, I also add in strength building exercises. All astronauts have different exercise routines so different astronauts train differently for different tasks.

zestONE (Q) how scary is it going into space?
Mike-Foreman (A) It's not really scary, I think because you are so focused on what you are doing, and busy going over checklists and other procedures that you don't really have time to be scared.

tgirgla (Q)Did you concentrate/take more science or engineering classes when you were in high school?
Mike-Foreman (A) I took all the science and math classes that I could take in high school. I knew I wanted to be an engineer, so I wanted to prepare myself by taking as many science and math classes as I could in high school.

Dell_Conagher (Q) How often will a typical crew have time to call family and friends on the VoIP/internet phone, especially on the tight schedule of a Shuttle mission?
Mike-Foreman (A) Maybe about three or four times during the entire mission.

tsmith (Q) How long are you out of the capsule for?
Mike-Foreman (A) My total spacewalking time is 32 hours and 19 minutes, that's 5 spacewalks worth of time outside the capsule. My longest spacewalk was 7 hours and 8 minutes.

Dell_Conagher (Q) Have you ever told an American joke to your non-American astronaut/cosmonaut colleagues, only to have to explain why it's funny? Has the reverse situation ever happened to you?
Mike-Foreman (A) Yes, it has happened in both directions. The sense of humor is different from each country.

Juan_Marcos (Q) Which one was the hardest part of the trip?
Mike-Foreman (A) Usually the hardest parts are the spacewalks themselves, working in the space suit is physically demanding.

Dell_Conagher (Q) Just curious; on your first flight, did you ever get foot cramps while getting used to hooking your feet around handrails to stabilize yourself and get around?
Mike-Foreman (A) No cramps, but I had calluses on top of my feet, because I used my feet to grab on.

Dell_Conagher (Q) During STS-129, what was it like being woken in the middle of the night by an emergency alarm?
Mike-Foreman (A) Well, we hate to be woken up early, but the alarm was not a big deal, we were prepared for that.

Mooseman (Q) What was your "unique career path from high school through astronaut training." ?
Mike-Foreman (A) I went to the Naval Academy, studied aerospace engineering. I went into the Navy and started flying airplanes. While in the Navy, I applied to Test Pilot School because I thought that would help me be selected as an astronaut. It took me 8 times applying to Test Pilot School before I was accepted. I also earned a Masters Degree in aeronautical engineering and then applied to NASA. It also took 8 times before I was accepted to be an astronaut. So it was a long path to get to NASA.

williambenwell (Q) What inspired you to become an astronaut?
Mike-Foreman (A) When I was a kid I heard a lot of the original astronauts, it sounded like a fun job that's what inspired me to pursue to become an astronaut.

Mooseman (Q) How do the ends of the tethers attach to what ever you are tethering from? (ISS, Shuttle, etc.)
Mike-Foreman (A) There's a gated hook. It locks on and won't come off inadvertently.

tgirgla (Q) How hard would you say it is to become an astronaut? What skills do you need and what do you need to know?
Mike-Foreman (A) For me, it was very hard to become an astronaut. I had to apply eight times before I was selected. NASA requires that you have a science, math, and engineering background. You need to study in those fields.

Guillermo_VENEZUELA (Q) What Is it like _Having The Coolest Job in the world ?
Mike-Foreman (A) I love it, I have to pinch myself everyday because I can't believe I have it.

247physics (Q) What is the furthest distance you have ever worked from the orbiter on an EVA?
Mike-Foreman (A) That's a good question. The tethers are each 85 feet long, sometimes we had to use two tethers. So the furthest I have been is 170 feet.

Mrs_Oberts_classes (Q) How long do you stay in space on a typical trip? What and how do you eat and do other daily routine activities? What does it look like and feel like in space? How long does it take to get from Earth to space?
Mike-Foreman (A) A typical trip for the Space Shuttle going to the International Space Station is anywhere from 11 to 16 days. (Other questions answered in above posts)

ccs4thgrade (Q) How do you prefer to sleep? Tethered to the wall or in a "drawer"
Mike-Foreman (A) I have never slept in a drawer; I prefer to be tethered to the wall.

wobblyearth (Q) how do you dispose of the body waste?
Mike-Foreman (A) It all goes in to our space toilet. The fluid can be dumped overboard while we are in space, but the solid waste is brought back and disposed of when we return.

Joey_G (Q) Hello Mike, Wondering if there was a time during a space walk that you stopped doing what you were doing to take in the wonders of space and what your thoughts were at that moment?
Mike-Foreman (A) Yes, a few times during my spacewalks I've had a chance to take a look at the Earth and it is amazing to look down on your planet, knowing that everyone and everything you know is on that planet, it is very awe inspiring.

SpanglerSpartans (Q) Does the space suit feel heavy in space?
Mike-Foreman (A) It doesn't feel heavy because everything is weightless, but it feels bulky and it's hard for you to move around in it.

Paul_F. (Q) how do you adapt to figuring out which way is up or down?
Mike-Foreman (A) Whatever the way my head is pointed up, then that is what feels like up. Even though other astronauts may be in the opposite direction, it feels that I am right, and they are wrong.

Juan_Marcos (Q) Is it harder to get used to the lack of gravity or to get used to it again?
Mike-Foreman (A) I think it's harder to get used to gravity again once we get back. It takes about an hour or so once you return to get rid of the feeling of no gravity, and you begin to feel very heavy.

Pif (Q) If you had one picture to choose from space conquest history, which one would you select and why?
Mike-Foreman (A) I think the most striking image is from an Apollo mission that shows the Earth from way far away, it is a striking image, very beautiful.

Dell_Conagher (Q) How difficult was changing procedures when the second emergency alarm interrupted your camp-out in the airlock?
Mike-Foreman (A) Not very hard since we had prepared for that contingency.

ccs4thgrade (Q) How long does it take to get to the ISS?
Mike-Foreman (A) It takes about 8 ½ minutes to get into space and another day after that to get to the ISS.

zestONE (Q) do you have a lucky charm that you take into space with you?
Mike-Foreman (A) No.

tgirgla (Q) Does spacewalking feel exactly like it does when training in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab?
Mike-Foreman (A) Not exactly because when we are in the pool there is water resistance and when flip blood ruses to our head. But when we flip in space blood doesn't rush to our head.

AEC (Q) What does the space suit smell like? Does it get stinky in there?
Mike-Foreman (A) I don't think I have a good sense of smell, I never noticed any bad odors from the space suit.

dsaghafi (Q) what type of vessel will you be using when the shuttles are retired?
Mike-Foreman (A) The next 10 years that we will be on the International Space Station we will initially be getting a ride up and down from Space. Hoping we will develop a new rocket here in the USA that we can use.

evintus (Q) Hi! I wanted to ask whether space looks different from space?
Mike-Foreman (A) No, not really.

Mooseman (Q) How heavy are the space suits when you are on a spacewalk? (Weight on Earth)
Mike-Foreman (A) It weighs 280 pounds, but in space it's weightless. I don't notice the weight, but it is bulky.

South_County_Secondary (Q) During your space missions, what was the nature of the work you were doing?
Mike-Foreman (A) Primarily the construction of the International Space Station.

Mike-Foreman (P) I'm going to answer 4 more questions then I have to go. I'll take a look at the rest of the questions and answer them over the next couple of days. The answers will be posted to this website.

Mooseman (Q) What do you do if the food starts floating away?
Mike-Foreman (A) You have to catch it so that it doesn't make a mess inside the space shuttle, our commander will get after us if we make a mess inside the shuttle.

Pif (Q) Which space object (space tool or spaceship) would be your favorite and why?
Mike-Foreman (A) I think the International Space Station because I spent many enjoyable days up there.

Montessori (Q) What is the astronaut's training center like?
Mike-Foreman (A) It's pretty incredible. We have impressive capabilities in order to train astronauts.

ccs4thgrade (Q) What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Mike-Foreman (A) Getting to share my experiences with young people.

Mike-Foreman (P) Thanks for joining me for today's chat. I've run out of time today but if I didn't answer your question during the chat, I'll answer it and post the answer on the chat transcript, which will be available on this web page within the next few days.

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Astronaut Michael J. Foreman, Mission Specialist
Astronaut Michael J. Foreman, Mission Specialist.
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NASA
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Astronaut Mike Foreman on a spacewalk
Astronaut Mike Foreman performs a six-hour, 37-minute spacewalk on STS-129.
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NASA
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Astronaut Mike Foreman waves to the camera while on a spacewalk
Astronaut Mike Foreman, STS-129 mission specialist, waves at a crewmate during a spacewalk.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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Page Last Updated: August 22nd, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator