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Astronaut returns bearing heartfelt gift

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By ALLISON WOOD

Staff Writer

WADSWORTH — NASA astronaut Michael Foreman began his school career at Sacred Heart School and returned Friday afternoon with a gift that traveled with him into space.

During an assembly in the gym, the Wadsworth native pulled out a red heart with the school’s logo on it, which was enclosed in a small plastic bag. The heart was given to Foreman before his mission on the space shuttle Endeavour in March.

“I thought I’d give you two things that went into space,” Foreman said, while presenting the heart to Principal Tracey Arnone.


NASA astronaut Michael Foreman greets students at Sacred Heart School in Wadsworth on Friday. Foreman, who attended Sacred Heart, returned with a gift he carried into space.

(Shirley Ware | Photo Editor)


He also gave her a letter of authenticity from NASA, which she said would be displayed in the school.

“The heart was a symbol we were praying for him,” she said, adding the school held a special Mass for him before his mission. “He wanted to come and give it back when the kids were here.”

Arnone said Foreman called the school a couple weeks ago to see if he could visit before the end of the school year.

As a child, Foreman attended the Catholic elementary school and Wadsworth High School, where he graduated in 1975. He now lives in Houston near the Johnson Space Center, the training center for astronauts.

During the Friday assembly, Foreman showed some “home movies” of his mission on the space shuttle Endeavour, which included video footage of the three spacewalks he completed during the 16-day mission. On one mission, he helped assemble “Dextre,” the “hand” for a robotic arm attached to the international space station.

He also passed around the kinds of food astronauts eat in space, which were stored in sealed plastic bags. While on his mission, Foreman said he was able to try the food from the Japanese and Russian space agencies. While the Endeavour crew liked the Japanese food, the Russian fare left something to be desired.

“I never knew what the word ‘gruel’ meant until I saw the side of that can,” he said.

His said his favorite American space food was a pasta and vegetable dinner, and he usually stayed away from grits.

“I wasn’t raised in the South, I was raised in Wadsworth,” he said.

Sixth-grader Marianne Dannemiller, 12, said none of the items Foreman brought, which included grits, cauliflower and a granola bar, looked very good to her.

“It was all dehydrated,” she said.

After he showed his video clips, students asked Foreman questions that ranged from what it’s like to be weightless in space to his favorite food.

“When you fly around for 16 days, it feels weird at first, but your body gets used to it,” he said, describing the feeling as similar to the one someone gets while on the bottom of a roller-coaster hill.

His said his favorite food is M&Ms and his favorite ice cream flavor is praline pecan.

“M&Ms are fun to throw around in space and eat,” Foreman said.

His favorite part of the mission was when he was on the spacewalks because of the view he had of Earth.

“When you go out there and see a panoramic view of everything, it’s indescribable,” Foreman said.

The scariest part of the mission was right before he had to do something complicated.

“The astronaut’s prayer is ‘Please don’t let me screw something up,’ ” Foreman said.

He said he decided to be an astronaut when he was in the fourth grade after reading about the early space program in the 1960s and thought it would be something fun to do.

“Being in space was the most fun I ever had,” he said.

Since he returned from space two months ago, he has been busy.

A couple weeks ago, Foreman returned from Japan, the home of crew member Takao Doi. During their weeklong visit, the shuttle crew visited the Japanese Space Agency, met the prime minister and members of its national assembly and spoke at schools.

He said he was able to come to Sacred Heart because he is attending an open house at NASA’s Plum Brook Station near Sandusky from noon to 5 p.m. today, the same time as the scheduled launch of the space shuttle Discovery.

Foreman will not be away from Wadsworth for long: He will attend an open house at SkyPark, where he learned to fly, on June 15, and will be the grand marshal of the city’s Blue Tip parade on June 17.

Wood may be reached at 330-721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.



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