NASA Astronaut Michael Foale Announces His Retirement
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Michael Foale, a veteran of six NASA missions who spent a total of 375 days in space during his 26-year career, is retiring, the US space agency announced on Friday.
Foale was born in Louth, England in 1957. In 1983, he joined the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston and served as a payload officer in the Mission Control Center. During his tenure at JSC, Foale was responsible for payload operations of commercial satellites deployed as part of space shuttle missions STS-51G, 51-I, 61-B and 61-C.
Four years later, he was selected as an astronaut candidate and he went on to participate in six space missions, starting with STS-45 in 1992. From March 24 through April 2 of that year, he took part in the first of the ATLAS series of missions to study the atmosphere and solar interactions.
During his career, Foale spent 145 days aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1997, and another 194 days aboard the International Space Station as commander of Expedition 8 from October 2003 to April 2004. During his NASA career, he also conducted four spacewalks totaling nearly 23 hours.
“Foale held many positions during his NASA career, including chief of the Astronaut Office Expedition Corps, assistant director (technical) of the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and deputy associate administrator for exploration operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington,” the organization said in a statement.
His most recent assignment was as the Chief of the Soyuz Branch, Astronaut Office, supporting Soyuz and International Space Station operations, and space suit development at JSC. Following his retirement from the US space agency, he plans to develop an electric aircraft with the hopes of reducing the cost of flying by 90 percent.
“We salute Mike and his contributions to NASA as an accomplished member of the astronaut corps,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Starting with his first flight, shuttle mission STS-45, when we flew together in 1992, Mike has worked tirelessly to support NASA’s quest to explore the unknown. I know Mike will go on to do more great things as he continues to support the aerospace industry in his new endeavor.”