HOUSTON — Less than two years after returning from space on a NASA shuttle mission, astronaut and Wadsworth native Michael Foreman is going back.
It is rare for modern astronauts to be named to another mission after such a short time, but Foreman, a retired Navy captain, said he is ready.
“I’m very excited to get to go a second time,” he said.
The mission, known as STS-129, is scheduled to lift off Nov. 12 on Space Shuttle Atlantis.
For the last several months, Foreman, 52, has “trained and trained and trained” at Johnson Space Center in Houston to review everything that could possibly happen during the 11-day mission.
“A lot of the classes I don’t remember from before,” he said. “So it’s good I have them again.”
As part of his mission duties, he will make two spacewalks outside the international space station. He prepares for the walks by practicing what he will do while submerged in a large swimming pool, which is supposed to simulate space.
This mission is a little bit different because it is shorter —mission STS-123 in March 2008 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour was 16 days — and all the crew members are all Americans, Foreman said.
He will spend much of his spacewalks completing repairs and doing maintenance on the orbiting facility. Last time he helped install a robotic arm for the space station and helped test a glue that would allow astronauts to repair shuttle tiles if they were damaged during liftoff.
“This mission’s more logistics,” he said, compared with the last one.
Between missions, Foreman was assigned to help plan spacewalks for other shuttle missions, which he said was helpful because he got to see how much preparation is involved for just one walk.
In a few weeks, he and the rest of the Atlantis crew will travel to Cape Canaveral, Fla., for a practice launch. They will then be quarantined for the week before the launch date to ensure no one gets sick before leaving.
On this mission, Foreman said he will take several Wadsworth mementos into space, including patches from the Wadsworth Fire and Police departments, along with one from the Rittman Police Department because Chief Mike Berg is a friend.
The crew also will carry a coin that is supposed to be used for the coin toss in the next Super Bowl, Foreman said.
In addition, shuttle crew member Leland Melvin, who was drafted by the NFL’s Detroit Lions in 1986, will carry a football that will be displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, he said.
In his previous mission, Foreman took up a heart patch from Wadsworth’s Sacred Heart School and a Wadsworth High School Grizzlies sticker and lanyard. He attended Sacred Heart School from grades one through eight and graduated from Wadsworth High School in 1975.
He later visited both schools to return the items and answer questions from students.
The space shuttle program is currently scheduled to end in 2010, so Foreman said he is fortunate to be able to go on one of the last missions.
Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.