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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 December, 2003, 11:43 GMT
British astronaut 'feared crash'
Astronaut Michael Foale in a satellite link-up from the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth at 17,000 mph (27,358.1 km/h), to BBC One's Breakfast With Frost programme
Foale: "It is a tremendous view"
Michael Foale has said he kept his cool when he thought the International Space Station, in which he is orbiting the Earth at 17,000 mph, had been hit.

The British-born astronaut heard a metallic crushing sound, apparently from the rear of the Zvezda living module, as he was having breakfast.

But in a satellite link-up, he has told BBC One's Breakfast With Frost programme his heart did not "lurch".

The sound is now believed to have come from equipment inside the ISS.

Commander Foale told Breakfast With Frost: "I know it is hard to believe. Yes, we thought we had been hit. Yes, I thought we might have had a leak. However, my heart just does not lurch like it should do."

As Nasa Station Science Officer, Dr Foale is spending six months on the ISS with only the mission's flight engineer, Russian cosmonaut Sasha Kaleri, for company.

Foale is one of the most experienced astronauts in Nasa history

And he told Breakfast With Frost it was a "good day" if "neither the American side nor the Russian side are angry with each other".

"It is difficult day to day for each partner to see the point of view of the other."

Dr Foale told the programme he and the Russian cosmonaut would wake up at 0700 GMT and after spending the day completing tasks set by both Houston and Moscow go to bed at 2300 GMT.

But they would also try to find the time to share lunch, enjoy an afternoon tea break together and send e-mails home.

"Unfortunately some British Royal Navy traditions have not carried over to the International Space Station yet - so the rum ration is not yet on board," Dr Foale added.

The tasks set for the two men included experiments on how zero gravity affects the development of cancer cells and the crystallisation of metals, he told Breakfast With Frost.

But they also spent hours simply staring out of the window.

Expedition 8, AP
Alexander Kaleri and Michael Foale arrived at the station in October
"It is a tremendous view," Dr Foale told the programme. "The Earth is so blue, so rich in colour, so vivid and it has all these associations, like a good perfume or good music, that you love it," he added.

The ISS circles the Earth every 90 minutes, which, Dr Foale told Breakfast With Frost, "means we see most of the inhabited part of the planet once a day".

"So we can monitor how human beings and other factors - erosion, the weather and so on - are changing the planet."

But although the Earth was the "be all and end all" for Dr Foale at the moment, he told the programme, he wished he could go to Mars "tomorrow".

But he added: "I do not really believe it is very credible that one country will do it on its own.

"As I look at the world today and see the changing and evolving roles of the developed nations, now including China, in space, it is very hard for me to guess how the politics and international relationships will develop to create an international mission to Mars."

Michael Foale, Astronaut
"I have a lot of faith in the ability of humans to continue this project"

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20 Oct 03  |  Cambridgeshire
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17 Oct 03  |  Science/Nature
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26 Aug 03  |  Science/Nature


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