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Just Back From Space: Mike Foale

OCCUPATION Astronaut HOME BASE Clear Lake, Texas OUT OF THIS WORLD Foale recently returned from the International Space Station, and although this was his sixth time in orbit, he found it awe-inspiring nonetheless. "Looking through a window while moving at five miles a second is exhilarating," Foale says. "I love making out Asia's geography—the Gobi Desert and the Himalayas." KEEPING COOL Foale was aboard the now decommissioned Mir when it collided with a Progress resupply ship, creating the first orbital decompression in human space flight. "Nothing forces you into panicky action," he says. "You just attend to the life-threatening things." COUNTING STARS "If the ISS were a hotel, I would give it four stars—and the Mir two," he jokes, admitting he didn't go into orbit for luxurious digs. "You accept accommodations that you never would on Earth." TO INFINITY, AND BEYOND! So what does Foale think of sending ordinary citizens into space?"It's exciting that people will be able to see the blackness of space and the Earth's bright blue curved horizon." But suborbital flights like those offered on SpaceShipOne are only going to whet people's appetites. The next challenge in the burgeoning space tourist industry: "Orbit, which is twenty times harder than what they're doing now."

—M.G. Lord

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