Don't bite your tongue off! Former astronauts give advice to Major Tim Peake who returns to Earth on Saturday

Two former astronauts have told ITV News the challenges Major Tim Peake should expect when he makes his return to Earth on Saturday.

Video report by ITV News science correspondent Alok Jha:

Former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Briton Dr Helen Sharman were both selected for space flight programs in the 1990s, and have described the return journey as both dangerous and challenging.

Major Peake boarded the International Space Station in December and is scheduled to return on June 18.

He became the first British astronaut to go into space.

In six months in space, he has conducted over 250 scientific experiments and captured the imagination of millions with his social media updates and live broadcasts.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield flew two space missions and explained the re-entry was like "being crushed and burned".

He said: "You see the fire that envelops the vehicle, like you're flying a meteorite home. Being crushed and burned and torched many thousand degrees.

"It's like you're flying through a blast furnace", he added.

Mr Hadfield, who spent 166 days in space, said his return was "like a car crash" and "you hit the ground like a tonne of bricks".

Major Tim Peake will board the Soyuz Capsule after leaving the ISS. Credit: ESA

He recollected advice he received from a Russian colleague who said: "Just before landing, stop talking - so you don't bite your tongue off."

Major Peake will leave the International Space Station on Saturday and board the Soyuz Capsule for his return to Earth alongside US astronaut Timothy Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.

The return journey is expected to last three hours.

British astronaut Helen Sharman has warned Major Tim Peake the return journey is "probably more dangerous than the launch".

Former astronaut Dr Helen Sharman. Credit: ITV News

Dr Sharman, who returned from the Mir space station in 1991, said: "Nobody has ever died in space - people who have died have been launching or landing. We know these are the most hazardous times".

In an interview with ITV News in May, Major Tim Peake said he was looking forward to the return, as most astronauts had told him "it's a really good ride".

A view from aboard the International Space Station. Credit: ESA