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S P E C I A L Repairing Mir

Astronaut Foale: 'I heard a thud'


Former Mir crew member describes frightening collision

October 29, 1997
Web posted at: 7:54 p.m. EST (0054 GMT)

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas (CNN) -- Astronaut Michael Foale says he had two sensations when an unmanned cargo vessel rammed the Russian space station Mir on June 25.

Foale said he was passing from one section of the station to another, and felt only "a slight sensation" in his fingers. However, his crewmates, Russians Vasily Tsibliyev and Alexander Lazutkin, were anchored in place and felt the space station shudder.

"I heard a thud," Foale told CNN's John Holliman in an interview. "I knew it was a bad thud and not a sound I expected to hear normally, so I expected to hear or feel air rushing out of the station."

See the interview:
icon 8 min. VXtreme video

Foale says that "pressure started to fill my ears ... like when you're in an elevator ... and that was a sure sign that ... the air was leaking out. And almost immediately a klaxon went off, and the klaxon's very loud and so that brings everyone's attention to bear, if they hadn't paid attention up to that point."

Foale, who spent five months on the space station before returning to Earth on October 6, said that even when he felt the pressure dropping he didn't think he was going to die.

"I just thought we're going home in the Soyuz (the station's spacecraft)," he said. "That was my initial thought."

Overall, Foale said, his five months on Mir were "much more interesting" than if everything had gone without a hitch.

Also Wednesday, Holliman confirmed that CNN is involved in talks with Russian officials about sending a CNN correspondent -- possibly him -- to Mir. Holliman says he has "wanted to go into space ... for years and years." If an agreement can be reached, "I'm going to be there," Holliman said.

Repairing Mir special section · MIR MAIN PAGE


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