On June 25, 1997, British-born NASA astronaut Dr. Michael Foale was aboard the MIR space station when it collided with a seven-ton cargo ship the size of a bus. Unaware to Dr. Foale, while his Russian colleagues were practising a docking procedure, Russian Mission Control ordered the automatic docking system to be switched off, based on concerns its radar might interfere with the ship’s visual monitor. The result was catastrophic, creating in the worst collision in the history of manned space flight.
Leaking oxygen, the MIR began spinning out of control at the rate of about one degree a second with a puncture in one of the modules, causing life threatening decompression. Dr. Foale and his colleagues worked feverishly to repair the damage over a critical six-hour period — with no power.
Dr. Foale is no stranger to the challenges of repairing equipment in space. With 22 hours of space walking time logged, he says his biggest challenge is the size of the responsibility.
We are fortunate enough to have Dr. Foale as our keynote speaker at this year’s Maximize Europe 2017 customer conference in Berlin. Dr. Foale will be discussing what it’s like to deal with the unique scenario of equipment failure in space, the critical balance of when to trust human instinct over emergency machine operating procedures, and the leadership qualities, training and team dynamics required to overcome such problems on a space ship he likens to an oily smelling cluttered garage, akin to working in someone’s esophagus.