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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Parents cheer son's space stay
Michael Foale, Nasa
Michael Foale has spent over 178 days in space.
The proud parents of astronaut Michael Foale were watching closely from Cambridge as he arrived on board the International Space Station on Monday for a six-month assignment.

Colin and Mary Foale said they have become used to their son's space missions, but were delighted they will be able to receive phone calls from him via satellite every few days.

Retired Air Commodore Colin Foale, 73, said; "Having lived with this for ten years, of course we are immensely proud, but we don't wring our hands. We just trust it will go well.

"We think they are all heroes."

Michael Foale, 46, is commander and Nasa Station Science Officer on the outpost and will serve with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri, the mission's flight engineer.

Great communication

His father said he and his wife Mary expected a phone call from space early this week.

He said: "I think he will cope very well. He has got excellent communication with his children and his wife and of course with us.

"It is staggering, I suppose, that it's possible."

Michael Foale gained a PhD in astrophysics from Queen's College, Cambridge, and left England in 1982 to move to Houston, Texas, to begin his work as an astronaut.

He spent more than four months on board the Russian space station Mir, where he experienced a string of problems including a collision with a satellite, repeated computer crashes and a loss of power.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The 200 tonne orbital embrace went perfectly"

Astronaut profile: Michael Foale
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