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1995: Space pioneers take first small steps

Michael Foale has become the first British-born American to walk in space.

Dr Foale - originally from Lincolnshire - and Dr Bernard Harris, the first black astronaut, stepped out into the open cargo bay of Nasa's space shuttle Discovery at 1210 GMT. They were testing a modified space suit and astronaut endurance.

With his parents and American wife Mary watching by satellite link in a London TV studio, Dr Foale's first words as he peeped down to Earth, 240 miles (386km) away, were: "Gosh, it's high, isn't it?"

He and Dr Harris clung to each other as they sat on the shuttle's robot arm.

They moved into the coldest area, in Discovery's shadow, and hung motionless in space for 20 minutes to test the efficiency of new insulation systems in their suits.

Indigenous Americans

Dr Harris dedicated his space walk "to all African-American achievements" and carried with him the flag of the Navajo nation to draw attention to indigenous Americans.

Together they manoeuvred a 1.25-tonne space-dust collecting satellite - the first of its kind.

But their planned five hours out in space were cut short when both astronauts complained of cold and the Nasa control centre called them back into the shuttle at 1620 GMT.

They spent more than three hours at an average temperature of -92C.

It was Dr Foale's boyhood dream to be the first Briton in space - but he was beaten by Helen Sharman in 1991 - and he emigrated to the US to join Nasa in 1982.

A Cambridge graduate, with a doctorate in astrophysics, Dr Foale learnt to fly while he was at university and has already spent more than 436 hours in space since 1992.

Discovery's current mission is to last a total of eight days in preparation for building the international space station, scheduled to begin in 1997.

In Context
Michael Foale was awarded the Order of Friendship by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in April 1998 for his subsequent four-month mission to the Russian space station Mir in 1997.

Mr Foale later said he thought he was going to die when a supply ship collided with the 14-year-old space station - probably the worst accident in orbit.

The first section of the International Space Station (ISS) was finally launched in November 1998 and the first - three man - crew took up long-term residence two years later.

The 16-nation, multi-billion-dollar project is due for completion in 2008.

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