Advertisement

Wiltshire astronaut prepares for life on the International Space Station

Wiltshire astronaut Tim Peake is preparing to jet to the International Space Station next month as the first British citizen to be selected for astronaut training by the European Space Agency

View all 2 updates ›

Wiltshire astronaut prepares for life on the International Space Station

Tim Peake, from Wiltshire, will be setting off for the International Space Station in December Credit: PA

An astronaut from Wiltshire is preparing to jet to the International Space Station next month, as the first British citizen to be selected for astronaut training by the European Space Agency.

43-year-old Tim Peake, who used to work at Agasta Westland in Yeovil, will embark on a six-month stint on the International Space Station, leaving Earth on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Mr Peake today admitted he was a little nervous.

"On launch day, of course there's going to be some apprehension."

"You're sat on top of 300 tonnes of fuel and you're basically just going to be focused on the mission and what's to come. It's important to say goodbye to friends and family and just draw a line and really focus on the mission ahead."

– Tim Peake, astronaut

A key aspect of the mission's link to the UK will be to engage with every school in the country and offer lessons about Mr Peake's work.

He will not only take part in a series of experiments - some calling on him to become a "guinea pig" to research asthma, the immune system and the ageing process - but engage with the public through social media.

Mr Peake will follow in the footsteps of Helen Sharman, who travelled to space in 1991 on a privately-funded venture.

He says there's been a decline in interest in the key industries from youngsters because of the UK's lack of visible human space flight programs.

But his advice to aspiring astronauts is simple: "You have to just take every step as it comes, and you have to do what you're passionate about and what you want to do."

He added:

"I left school at 18 and decided to become a pilot. Many people may have said at the time that was a bad choice - that you should be going to university, you should be getting a higher education."

"For me, it worked out great - it was what I wanted to do, it was what I was passionate about - and I was able to get a degree later in life."

"Sometimes, your career takes you through various different paths and you're not quite sure where you're going to end up."

– Tim Peake, astronaut
A view of the earth from the International Space Station. Credit: European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti

Space missions, while valuable for research, also capture the imagination of spectators around the world - as demonstrated by the popular YouTube videos of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

But unlike Col. Hadfield, Mr Peake said he will not be performing any David Bowie covers.

He said: "I don't think I'm at the stage where I'm prepared to unleash that on the worldwide audience."

Maybe he'll change his mind - in the meantime, here's Col. Hadfield's Space Oddity.

More top news