London – Tim Peake has become the first British astronaut to go to the International Space Station (ISS). Peake was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the mission with NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.

Their launch from the Moscow-operated Baikonur cosmodrome went according to plan, but after their six-hour journey the astronauts docked with the ISS manually due to a technical glitch.

Photo: WIRED/bisgovuk/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
Peake started his career in the army. A major, his twenty-year military career took him to Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan before he became a commercial pilot and, later, an astronaut. Credit: bisgovuk/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

Peake is 43 years old and he is from Chichester in the southeast of England. He graduated from the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1992 as an officer in the British Army Air Corps. He served as a platoon commander in Northern Ireland before beginning flight training and getting his Army Flying Wings in 1994.

In late 90s he became a helicopter pilot and instructor where he retired in 2009. In November 2010 he completed basic training and he was selected by the ESA as an astronaut. In 2011 he lived underground for a week in a Sardinian cave system as part of further training, studying human behaviour in extreme environments, and a year later he spent 12 days underwater off the coast of Florida for NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) and completed training and certification for spacewalks.

Major Peake will stay in the International Space Station for six month mission as the culmination of six years of training since being selected for the European astronaut corps in 2009. After the tense docking he was able to briefly speak with his family.

“It was a beautiful launch” “We just got on with the work, but that first sunrise was absolutely spectacular” and “I hope everyone had a create celebration. I hope you enjoyed the show. I think we had a great time in the office, that’s for sure.” Were some of the messages said by Major Peake after hearing messages from his wife and parents.

The event has been celebrated by many British citizens. Millions of people worldwide, including the prime minister, tuned in to watch Maj Peake’s blast-off from Kazakhstan on the Principia mission.

Now, UK students will have the opportunity to speak to Peake by video-link next year. Just a few of them will be able to question Peake directly, but others will send questions via social media. More than 1,000 schools, both primary and secondary, have already signed up.

Source: The Telegraph