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Michael Foreman Shares His Out Of This World Life: From WHS Grad To Astronaut To Mayor

Michael Foreman attended Wadsworth High School in the class of 1975. After graduation he went on to work for NASA as an astronaut and completed two space missions. Now Foreman is retired from NASA and currently Mayor of Friendswood in Texas.

“It was 50 years ago when I was in this school, it was a little different school back then, same location but different buildings. It was a very formative time for me, I was something of an athlete,” Foreman said. “I played football, baseball, I even ran track my freshman year. I studied college prep courses so that I could be prepared to go to college and become a pilot in the Navy and eventually hopefully an astronaut, and that dream did come true.”

During his time at Wadsworth High School, Foreman took part in many different sports and even volunteered his time to The Bruin as a photographer.

“I even served in the Bruin staff for a little bit. I volunteered, I was a cameraman for sporting events, and they gave me a polaroid camera,” Foreman said. “I took some pictures and worked on the Bruin staff a little bit, it was pretty fun.”

Foreman believes that his time in Wadsworth helped shape him and take him to where he is now.

“Well believe it or not, Wadsworth had a lot of an effect on me,” Foreman said. “Growing up in the Midwest, you all take for granted, but I’ve lived in a lot of different places and I know that everybody doesn’t grow up with the same work ethic that the midwestern values instilled in me. You can make something of yourself, if you work hard.”

Foreman recalls seeing news about several Ohio astronauts very often. Seeing all this coverage of the astronauts from Ohio inspired him to pursue the same career.

“There are more US astronauts from the state of Ohio than any other state. We are very proud of that, and why is that? I always joked that it’s a lot of people looking for work outside the state, but that’s not true. The truth is, that early in the space program, sort of coincidentally, Ohio had three astronauts really early,” Foreman said. “So the news media just picked up on that and they were talking about astronauts all the time through the ‘60s. I just remember hearing stories all the time about astronauts doing this, or training to do this mission, and they’ve been on this mission. And I thought, wow going to space sounds like a cool job, so that’s what inspired me to follow that.”
All three of the Ohioan astronauts before Foreman had been Naval Aviators so he made the Navy his first stop before applying to NASA.

“So I learned more about what I needed to do to become an astronaut and I decided all three of those gentlemen were Naval Aviators

The picture above shows Michael Foreman posing for his official picture at NASA. On the front of his space suit he wears the patches of his completed space missions. Photo courtesy of Fair Use.

by the way, so I decided I would need to be a Naval Aviator and follow in their footsteps. It just looked like a fun job and that’s why I was attracted to it, and it was. It was the best job ever,” Foreman said.

Being an astronaut was a dream of Foreman’s from the age of eight and he says that Wadsworth was very supportive of this dream.

“People, I’m sure, maybe had this thought like, ‘this kid thinks he can be an astronaut, that’s crazy’ but they never said that to me,” Foreman said. “It’s sort of a positive uplifting kind of spirit around here, and if you have a dream, they will say ‘yeah you go for it,’ they’re not going to say ‘oh you want to be a chemical engineer, maybe you should get your sights on something different.’ I learned a lot of hard work and keep working toward your dream, and it took me eight times applying to NASA, so I had to keep working at it and never give up, just keep trying and making yourself better. All that came from right here, Wadsworth, Ohio. I am proud to be from Wadsworth , Ohio. A lot of people when you say ‘where are you from’ they might answer I’m from Cleveland or I’m from Akron but I don’t. I say I’m from Wadsworth, Ohio because I’m very proud.”

After eight applications to NASA, he was then accepted as an astronaut at NASA and would go on to complete two space missions and five space walks throughout those missions.

“The best thing about being an astronaut is getting to go to space and getting to look back at the Earth from space because our planet is so beautiful. When you see it from 250 miles out in space, it just looks like this beautiful blue and green and brown and a lot of clouds, so a lot of white marble down there,” Foreman said. “It’s just overwhelming, almost, because you just realize, the only people I know are down there on that planet, everything I’ve ever learned, you know, Wadsworth, Ohio is down on that planet. All the people I know and love live down there, and it’s pretty crazy.”

Foreman was a Mission Specialist Astronaut which gave him different responsibilities from the rest of his crew. Some of these responsibilities include performing on-board experiments and spacewalks.

“I got to do spacewalks, instead of being a pilot in the space shuttle I got to put on the suit,” Foreman said. “At the time, in 2008/2009 we were still building the International Space Station, so we would go outside and do some construction tasks, putting things together and adding to the space station. We built a special purpose dexterous manipulator, which we call ‘Dexter’, it’s a hand that goes on the end of a robotic arm, but when we took it up, it came up in 11 pieces, so we had to devote three space walks just to putting it all together.”

Foreman’s first mission in 2008 was his longest mission, which was 16 days long. During this mission he contributed to the building of the International Space Station. Then during his second space mission he spent 11 days in space.

“I haven’t spent very much time in space really,” Foreman said. “Well, it sure affected my way of looking at things because when you see our planet from space, it changes your life, you have a different perspective on things after seeing the Earth from space. It was life-changing, really.”

After his time at NASA, Foreman found himself with a lot of time on his hands soon after he retired. Along with working for his wife’s consultant firm he began to get involved with the city he lived in.

“I found this group that was just starting up to improve the look of our downtown and I thought at that time, the downtown area in Friendswood could be a little more presentable and look nicer,” Foreman said. “So we went to city council with our proposal and they didn’t want to hear about it right then, I talked to the mayor and he said ‘well, yeah that’s nice but we have higher priorities than that’ so I said well maybe if I ran for city council and got elected to city council I could help steer back towards doing some things in downtown, and that’s what I did.”

After being involved with city council for two years, Foreman was then asked by many of his peers to run for mayor when the position opened up. He has been the mayor of Friendswood since then and is now in his third term.

“I first got on to city council for two years and I was a city council member and then the mayor decided he wasn’t going to run again and everybody asked me to run for mayor, so I did,” Foreman said. “Now I just got reelected to my third term as mayor so I’ve been mayor for six years and I’ll be mayor for three more probably. It’s a lot of fun, I enjoy it.”

Foreman believes promoting STEM is one of the most important things he can do. He believes students aiming to study STEM should follow their dream and pursue STEM.

“I would say study STEM, inquire about internships, NASA scholarships, look into all that. Being an intern at NASA is a great place to start because once you get your foot in the door, it’s a lot easier, once you have your degree to come back and work there for a long time,” Foreman said. “We have people that I know, living here in Wadsworth, that work up in Cleveland at the Glenn Research Center so it’s a very neat place. I would just say follow that dream, pursue STEM, get a degree in STEM, apply, and work at NASA.”

Follow this link to see the full interview on Youtube:

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About the Contributors
Katie Allen
Katie Allen, Print Editor-in Chief
Katie Allen is a senior and has been on the staff for four years, her current position is Print Editor-In-Chief. She is most looking forward to seeing what awards the staff can win this year at OSMA, she hopes this year the Bruin can win All-State. Her favorite part about Bruin is all the new and interesting people she gets to meet and how she gets to share their stories through her writing in the Bruin. She believes anyone who is on the fence about joining Bruin should just go for it and try something new because there are so many different opportunities for students on the staff.
Alex Banks
Alex Banks, News Editor
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