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To the Moon and Mars from the International Space Station
			Commander on the International Space Station
			Michael Foale Michael Foale Photo
Ph.D. in Laboratory Astrophysics
			Born January 6, 1957, in England
			Dr. Foale joined the NASA Johnson Space Center in 1983, and was responsible for payload operations on four Space Shuttle missions. Selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1987, he flew on Space Shuttle missions STS 45, 56, 63, 84, 86 and 103, and lived on the Russian space station Mir for 145 days. Dr. Foale initially conducted science experiments, then helped re-establish Mir after it experienced a collision and depressurization. In October 2003, Dr. Foale flew to the International Space Station as Commander of Expedition 8. He returned to Earth in April 2004, after logging 194 days in space.  He has done four space walks, and is the U.S. record holder for most cumulative time in space - 374 days. Michael Foale Photo
Q. You lived for 194 days on the International Space Station (ISS) as Commander of Expedition 8. What was the most significant result of the mission?

Astronaut Kaleri (left) and Foale
People always expect me to answer a question like that by talking about the best experiment or the best space walk. But actually, the best success for me was that I came back from that flight still friends with Alexander Kaleri, who was my crewmate. We were the only two people on board the International Space Station - myself, an American, and Alexander Kaleri,
a Russian. We were both very experienced, and it was most important that we work well together, just the two of us, for 195 days [precisely 194 days, 18 hours and 35 minutes] without ever getting angry at each other.
Another success was that we did not break anything badly. We handed over the space station in the same condition as we had received it from the previous crew: still capable of doing scientific experiments, and also of providing an opportunity for all the ISS partners in the future.

Q. What was the most memorable scientific experiment?

Astronaut Foale conducting PFMI experiment
Astronaut Foale studying weakening of human bones and muscles in space
I am a physicist by training. I studied physics at Cambridge University in England, and my doctorate is in astrophysics - experimental astrophysics. So I am always very interested in experiments that look at how materials or properties change in space.
For example, Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation (PFMI) was very interesting. This was an experiment to observe the formation and interaction of bubbles that exist in materials by melting them in a Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG).
A wax-like material was melted as if it were a metal, and then allowed to slowly solidify. As crystals formed, dendritic patterns also formed, mimicking the way a metal would also cool and solidify in space. At the boundary between the liquid metal and solid metal, or the liquid wax and solid wax that we were working on, you could see bubbles and transport mechanisms taking place. Things were moving inside this fluid, and yet there was no gravity or convection causing things to move around. So, the question was, why were these things moving? With this experiment, we see how bubbles in these materials would lessen the strength and usefulness of the materials, and we study how bubble formation in metals produced on the ground can be prevented. Through this process, we are hoping to find a way of making more advanced materials.
Another experiment I enjoyed was Miscible Fluids in Microgravity (MFMG), simply because it was innovative and inventive. By adding honey to water, we observed how these two materials would mix in microgravity. We used canned honey from the Russian food allocation. It doesn't fall out of the can as there is no gravity in space. So I would extract it with a syringe, and either add water to it, or inject it into another syringe that had water in it. We observed how the honey curled and tumbled into the water in a gravity-free environment. The goal is to use these observations to improve manufacturing processes for many things, from synthetic resin to pharmaceuticals.

There were many experiments on this flight that had interesting results. My measure of success, as the operator carrying out the experiment system, is that I carried out the experiments the way the investigator expected. I do not know whether he is happy or not with the results.
A good example is the experiment that we did with honey. I had expected, and I think the scientists had expected, the honey to form a long stream and then slowly curl in patterns. This did not happen. Instead, the honey came off and just formed little curled sausage shapes, and broke off. Very, very unusual but not as exciting as we had hoped. That's one example of an experiment where I think there was some success, but maybe the result was unexpected.

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