Ask An Astronaut: Mike Fossum

by Ray Sanders on January 6, 2012

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NASA astronaut Mike Fossum onboard the International Space Station during Expedition 28. NASA's Robonaut is also visible in the background. Image credit: NASA TV

Following up on our successful “Ask Dr. Alan Stern” interview, we’re continuing our “Ask” series. This time, Universe Today readers will be able to Ask an Astronaut!

Here’s how it works: Readers can submit questions they would like Universe Today to ask the guest responder. Simply post your question in the comments section of this article. We’ll take the top five (or so) questions, as ranked by “likes” on the discussion posts. If you see a question you think is good, click the “like” button to give it a vote.

Keep in mind that final question acceptance is based on the discretion of Universe Today and in some cases, the responder and/or their employer.

This installment features International Space Station Expedition 29 commander, Mike Fossum.

Self-portrait of astronaut Mike Fossum taken on July 8, 2006. Image Credit: NASA / Mike Fossum

Fossum served as an Air Force test pilot until 1992, when he joined NASA. Officially selected for the Astronaut Corps in 1998, His first space flight was on July 4, 2006 as an STS-121 mission specialist.

According to NASA, Fossum completed 167 days in space as a member of the Expedition 28 and 29 crews during his third space flight. Altogether, Fossum has spent 194 days in space and performed seven spacewalks. He ranks seventh on the all-time list for cumulative spacewalking time.

Fossum and his crewmates, Expedition 29 Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov of the Russian Space Agency and Satoshi Furukawa of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, returned to Earth in their Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft at 8:26 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2011. Fossum was aboard the station during the final space shuttle mission, STS-135, which delivered supplies and equipment to the outpost. During most of his time aboard the ISS, Fossum performed science experiments and routine maintenance.

Before submitting your question, take a minute and read a bit more about Fossum at: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/fossum.html

You can also read Fossum’s “Living The Dream” NASA blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/newui/blog/viewpostlist.jsp?blogname=Living%20the%20Dream

We’ll take questions until 6:00PM (MST) Monday, January 9th and provide a follow up article soon after with Fossum’s responses to your questions.

About 

In addition to being a published astronomer specializing in variable stars, Ray Sanders has blogged for Universe Today, and The Planetary Society blog, among others. He runs his own blog, Dear Astronomer, teaches classes for CosmoQuest, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Abraham Samma January 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

As a trained astronaut, what are your thoughts on the feasibility of making space flight a routine for normal civilians ( besides tourists) especially with regard to interplanetary/beyond earth orbit flights?

Abraham Samma January 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

As a trained astronaut, what are your thoughts on the feasibility of making space flight a routine for normal civilians ( besides tourists) especially with regard to interplanetary/beyond earth orbit flights?

Abraham Samma January 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

As a trained astronaut, what are your thoughts on the feasibility of making space flight a routine for normal civilians ( besides tourists) especially with regard to interplanetary/beyond earth orbit flights?

Abraham Samma January 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

As a trained astronaut, what are your thoughts on the feasibility of making space flight a routine for normal civilians ( besides tourists) especially with regard to interplanetary/beyond earth orbit flights?

Anonymous January 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Living on the ISS is sometimes said to be a difficult experience – if you could make any one change to the ISS to make it more comfortable, what would it be?

Anonymous January 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Living on the ISS is sometimes said to be a difficult experience – if you could make any one change to the ISS to make it more comfortable, what would it be?

Anonymous January 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Living on the ISS is sometimes said to be a difficult experience – if you could make any one change to the ISS to make it more comfortable, what would it be?

Anonymous January 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Living on the ISS is sometimes said to be a difficult experience – if you could make any one change to the ISS to make it more comfortable, what would it be?

Jacob Marchio January 6, 2012 at 7:29 PM

While in the earth’s shadow, could you see the stars, constellations and planets? If you could, did they look any better or brighter?

Anonymous January 7, 2012 at 8:16 AM

What would you say is the strongest asset that each of the space fairing countries brings to the table when it comes to our forward progress into space as a species?

Anonymous January 7, 2012 at 8:59 AM

What is the plan for de-orbiting the Space Station?

Anonymous January 7, 2012 at 11:25 AM

lol – although I’m sure it will have to be decommissioned eventually, I don’t think anyone really wants to jeopardise their career by putting forward such a plan this early :P

Anonymous January 7, 2012 at 8:48 PM

I’m serious. The ISS is humungous. I hope they are not waiting until they have to figure it out. It’s so big and ungainly that large portions of it will reach earth and in pretty unpredictable ways. If there is no plan for separating components or steering it with auxiliary propulsion, then we’re just relying on the odds that no one will get hit, which admittedly are pretty good. But it seems to me irresponsible not to take this into account when putting something like this in orbit.

Anonymous January 8, 2012 at 10:21 PM

Seems to me we should use the VASIMR engines (when operable) to move the ISS to a lunar orbit, slowly but surely. If not the moon, then maybe park it in a much higher, more stable Earth orbit? Future archeologists would appreciate that.

Anonymous January 8, 2012 at 11:23 PM

How about boosting it to a Lagrange point between the earth and moon?

Torbjörn Larsson January 8, 2012 at 10:54 PM

As irresponsible as putting up a skyscraper in a city perhaps. All these things can be deadly or damaging if they fall early or if the decommission is troublesome. Yet no one suggests skyscrapers, diverse towers, hydroelectric dams, et cetera shouldn’t be build.

If it was just a laboratory, even a risk laboratory (say, for investigating deadly infectious diseases), I would be a bit concerned too.

However, it is an excellent piece of international cooperation. It was difficult enough to make it. I dunno if they considered decommission above the ability to disassemble and burn à la Skylab et cetera, since all previous space stations were simply deorbited. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Anonymous January 8, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Funny you should mention that we don’t consider how to bring down a skyscraper when constructing it. I recall attending a lecture by Buckminster Fuller forty years ago at Rochester Polytechnic Institute where he suggested exactly this to the assembled architectural and engineering students. He asked them to think of their buildings as boats, and asked them how much they thought the building we were in (the Field House) weighed , – just to the nearest 100 tons. We were all dumb-founded. Surely the ISS is a better analog to a boat than RPI’s Field House.

Nothing lasts forever, and planning for its decommission at inception would make the process simpler and cheaper. Why not?

The Open File January 7, 2012 at 10:27 AM

After a typical stay on the ISS, how long does it take an astronaut to recover from the effects of weightlessness?

Jamie Rich January 7, 2012 at 3:31 PM

How do keep your hair cut on the ISS?

Anonymous January 7, 2012 at 8:49 PM

The Flobee? the vacuum cleaner/hair cutter?

Anonymous January 7, 2012 at 8:01 PM

On those presumably rare moments of private thought and reflection, when you can just relax alone, and “enjoy the view” outside, what enters your mind, seeing the world-turning panorama below, and looking-out into the star-strewn expanse beyond? How do you feel, what do you think?

Meredith Neria January 8, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Are you encouraging your children/grandchildren to consider pursuing an astronaut career?

Anonymous January 8, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Have you ever read ‘Lucifer’s Hammer’?

Mr. Shannon Lejuan Clements January 11, 2012 at 3:48 AM

Dear Dr. Alan Stern,

Hello, my name is Mr. Shannon Lejuan Clements. ow are you doing today sir? Fine I hope. The reason why I am contacting you is because I wanted to ask you would you ever read a copy of either my book or script while out in space and make me the first black author and screenwriter read out in space? It’s titled The Star Explorer: The Discovery and another is Psye Ens: The Hidden Knowledge. I can send it via e-mail in .pdf format if you like. Thank you for your cooperation!

Respectfully Submitted,
Mr. Shannon Lejuan Clements

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