MAJOR Tim Peake will make one giant leap as Britain’s first official man in space in 2015.
The Chichester-born Apache helicopter pilot who followed a career in the army has fought off competition from more than 8,000 applicants to live and work on the International Space Station.
Already having spent three years training with the European Space Agency, Tim still faces another two years of high-intensity training to master the lifeskills he will need for the six-month mission.
Although he said he won’t be singing in space like astronaut Chris Hadfield, the experienced Apache helicopter pilot has said he is ‘delighted’ to have been given the opportunity. “I don’t think I’ll be able to top his tweeting, but I will also be tweeting to encourage a generation to take an interest in space.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for European science, industry and education to benefit from microgravity research.”
Forty-one-year-old Tim will have to come to terms with microgravity, scheduled space walks, docking and flying the rocket that will take him to the space station.
He will continue a number of ‘rolling experiments’ on the space station, including human physiology, medical research and astrobiology.
And, looking at a career as extraordinary as Tim’s, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind he will work hard to achieve his ambitions. Since leaving school, he has had a packed career, training in the air, venturing in caves and spending 12 days under water.
Nigel Peake, Tim’s father, described his son’s enthusiasm for adventure.
“He has always been what you would describe as an outdoor person from when he was very young. He was in the cadet force when he was at Chichester High School.
“From when he was young he was very interested in flying, especially helicopters. During his time at the high school he did some flying in light aircraft.
“We are delighted he has got a long-term mission. He’ll love that he will be able to do all the scientific experiments he enjoys.”
Nigel and his wife Angela, who live in Westbourne, said they were glad Chichester High School for Boys had a mention on the television news, as Tim enjoyed his time there.
“It is great that his former physics teacher is still there.”
As reported in last week’s Observer, the part of the training which Tim found most challenging was learning Russian.
But, when it came to physical challenges including six days of living in caves and extreme-depth dives, Tim had no problems. “He loved it all, perhaps because of his army background,” said Nigel.
Nigel said there were two main things Tim was particularly looking forward to on his trip: “The scientific experiments which he is very keen on and the possibility of what they call a space walk.
“He may get to go outside for routine maintenance or in case they need any little problems correcting. He has trained for that a lot in Houston.”