The NASA astronaut who will replace Jerry Linenger aboard the Russian space station Mir next month says he’s more worried about lifting off aboard Atlantis than living on the aging outpost.
“By far the riskiest thing I’m doing is going out to the launch pad with my fellow crewmates,” Michael Foale said in a NASA television broadcast Friday.
“Once you’ve gotten past the hurdle of the launch, everything else is easier. Going across to the Mir is no big transition in risk.”
Since arriving at Mir in January, Linenger has had to contend with a fire that almost forced an evacuation, leaking antifreeze fumes that have caused the crewmen to become congested, broken oxygen generators and problems with the carbon dioxide removal system.
Foale, 40, a British-born astrophysicist, said he is amazed at how well the Russians have kept Mir working over the past 11 years.
“We’ve had many, many false alarms, many scares, about things being the end on board the Mir, and, indeed, the Mir is an extraordinary spacecraft because it’s lived long beyond its design lifetime,” he said.
Atlantis is scheduled to blast off May 15, carrying up Foale and six others, as well as equipment.
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