MEDINA — Retired NASA astronaut Michael Foreman said it was Ohio astronauts like John Glenn Jr. and Neil Armstrong that made him want to not only reach for, but rocket through the stars.
“Those early pioneer astronauts my generation heard about and inspired us to follow in their footsteps,” the 1975 Wadsworth High School graduate said.
Thursday afternoon at Medina Library, Foreman spoke about his NASA experiences, including the 2009 trip to the International Space Station onboard space shuttle Atlantis.
“Whenever anybody ever asks me where I’m from, I could easily say I’m from northeastern Ohio, I’m from Akron, I’m from Cleveland, but I always say the same thing: I’m from Wadsworth, Ohio.”
Foreman, who was selected to be an astronaut in 1998, spoke about his early interest in space flight, what it takes to become an astronaut and his last space mission in 2009.
Born in Columbus in 1957, Foreman’s family relocated to Wadsworth shortly after his birth. It was there he realized he wanted to be an astronaut.
“People always say, ‘Mike, why are there so many astronauts from Ohio,’ and I say it’s because a lot of people want to get a job outside the state,” he joked, “but that’s not really true.”
Mayor Dennis Hanwell, who introduced Foreman, said the retired astronaut received a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1979 and a master of science in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Navel Post Graduate School in 1986.
During his two missions, Foreman logged 637 hours in space, spending more than 32 hours of those outside the space station during five space walks.
Foreman showed the room a film of STS-109, his last space mission. The film showcased everything from the shuttle blasting off the launch pad to Foreman suiting up to work on the International Space Station.
“It is a pretty wild ride launching on the space shuttle station,” he said.
At launch, space shuttle Atlantis weighed in at about 3.5 million pounds, with most of the weight coming from fuel, Foreman said.
“We had 7.5 million pounds of thrust, so when those solid rocket boosters lift off, you knew you were going somewhere,” Foreman said.
At two minutes, 10 seconds, the solid rocket boosters fall off and in another 8 minutes, the shuttle is in orbit traveling 17,500 mph, Foreman said.
Foreman, who applied eight times to be an astronaut, said perseverance is the best advice he can give aspiring astronauts.
“It is daunting. That last year, 2017, I think they had 18,000 applications for 12 astronaut slots, so the competition is a little stiff,” he said.
Foreman said NASA astronauts must have a technical degree along with some experience working in their field.
“What I say is NASA does look for people that have been very successful in whatever field that they came from,” he said.
“I say find a field that you are going to like to work in because if you like to work in that field, it is much more likely that you will be successful in it; and if you are successful in it, you have a shot with NASA.”
Foreman said he is a proponent of the United States going back to the moon, which could help astronauts prepare for possible missions to Mars.
“In 1,000 years, they will look back and go, ‘Why did it take them so long to get to Mars?’ That was just a scratch in the surface of really where we will eventually travel I think.”
By going back to the moon and establishing a base there, astronauts could learn to “live and work on an extraterrestrial satellite planet,” he said.
Foreman is president of Venturi Outcomes LLC, a consulting firm in Texas founded by his wife. He recently was elected mayor of Friendswood, Texas.
To learn more about the space program, visit the NASA Journey to Tomorrow Display Trailer, which will be open 4-8 p.m. today at the Medina County Administration Building parking lot, 144 N. Broadway St.
The 53-foot trailer features interactive exhibits as well as models of NASA spacecraft and an authentic moon rock.
Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.