NASA Space Talk with Michael Foale by Rosalie Luff (L5):
On the 17 November 2016, a group of enthusiastic students left Prior Park at 4:16 pm, as lessons finished, to travel up into Birmingham to see Michael Foale speak about his time at the space station. There were fifteen of us with Dr French included. We travelled with little time to stop and grab food, so we all brought our packed dinners with us.
We got to the school at around 7:15, where we were lead up the stairs to the balcony as it would be a better view from up there. When Michael Foale came out, there was a massive round-of-applause. He started by telling us his journey to becoming an astronaut. His father was a pilot in the Royal Air Force and Michael had always thought that that was what he would grow up to do. When he was old enough, he signed up but failed the eye test and wasn’t allowed to join. He didn’t give up there though. He joined a local gliding club and got a pilot’s license there.
Michael Foale soon heard that NASA was accepting applications, so he signed up and luckily for him, he was accepted. He started off in mission control, where he was looking after cargo shuttles. And then after many years of asking and asking and asking to go into space, NASA let him.
He described the feeling of going into space for the first time and how incredible that moment was. Unforgettable. He then showed some videos of what it is like to be in space as well as telling stories of events. There were some awesome videos including one of him drinking water and catching skittles. Because they are in free fall, the skittles stayed suspended for Michael to try and pick up, whilst the water formed a large ball that could be drunk with a straw. He told us the story of when a supply ship broke his sleeping pod. He wasn’t in it thankfully, but a lot of air pressure was lost. He thought they should do as instructed and leave the space station, but one of his companions decided that they could fix it themselves. They did manage it. They capped off the damaged section of the pod and made it safe once again.
The two-and-a-half-hour journey there and the two-and-a-half-hour journey back for one talk was definitely worth it. We stopped off once on our way home at a service station so people could buy some food. When we eventually got back to Prior, it was gone 11pm and raining very heavily, but it was one amazing evening out.