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Shuttle-Mir Stories - Foale on Doing "Dirty" Work

After the collision with the Spektr progress vehicle, U.S. Mir astronaut Michael Foale became more involved in the day-to-day "housekeeping" work aboard Mir. He talks about this in his Oral History.

Foale says, "I had already volunteered to do some significant work on the Mir, and the specialists on the ground were sort of considering letting me do it, but, as you probably know, most NASA [astronauts during] long-duration flights haven't been allowed to operate the systems much. They weren't relied on to do that, for a number of reasons, to do with contracts and bonus payments to cosmonauts . . .

"But in this case, I had been offering to clean up all of the condensation that was already present on the Mir before the collision, [and] which got a lot worse after the collision, and I was just waiting to go and get myself wet and go mop up all this water. There was a lot of water onboard, many tons of it on the walls.

"Because I had made that effort -- that proposal to the ground [i.e., ground control] about a week before the collision -- the ground was kind of negotiating. . . . And they came back and said, 'Yes, we'd like Mike to do some of this work.'

"I couldn't stand seeing Vasily [Tsibliev] and Sasha [Lazutkin] always doing the grungy work, just getting beaten. I mean, scratches, the hair wet, the most foul places. And here I was, the pampered American poodle, just doing my experiment stuff and them having to maintain this whole place, just so that I could do my experiments without getting dirty . . ."

Related Links:
Life on Mir
Foale Increment
Profile: Michael Foale
Michael Foale Oral History (PDF)

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Curator: Kim Dismukes
Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty