Louth-born NASA astronaut Michael Foale has retired, ending a 26-year space agency career that included 375 days in space during six space shuttle missions and extended stays aboard two space stations.
Foale, 56, spent 145 days aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1997 and 194 days aboard the International Space Station as commander of Expedition 8 from October 2003 to April 2004.
He also conducted four spacewalks over his NASA career totaling almost 23 hours.
Foale was born in Louth to to British father Colin and American mother Mary and has a road in the town named after him, Michael Foale Lane.
“We salute Mike and his contributions to NASA as an accomplished member of the astronaut corps,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
“Starting with his first flight, shuttle mission STS-45, when we flew together in 1992, Mike has worked tirelessly to support NASA’s quest to explore the unknown.
“I know Mike will go on to do more great things as he continues to support the aerospace industry in his new endeavour.”
Foale held many positions during his NASA career, including chief of the Astronaut Office Expedition Corps, assistant director (technical) of the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and deputy associate administrator for exploration operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
He most recently worked in support of Soyuz and International Space Station operations, as well as space station spacewalk activity and spacesuit development.
Foale’s future plans include advancing green aviation technology.