Astronaut Tim Peake ‘truly elated’ to be back on Earth

British astronaut Tim Peake will tomorrow give his first press conference since returning to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS).

At the briefing being held at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, Major Peake, 44, will describe the fiery descent from orbit, answer questions about his physical condition, and assess his six-month mission.

During his 186 days on the ISS the former helicopter test pilot and father of two participated in more than 250 scientific experiments, performed a space walk, ran the London Marathon on a treadmill, and inspired more than a million schoolchildren with educational outreach activities.

His achievements earned him a Queen’s Birthday honour that was out of this world — Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for “extraordinary service beyond our planet”.

On Saturday, Peake and crewmates American Nasa astronaut Colonel Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko made the trip back to Earth in a tiny Soyuz space capsule measuring 1.8m across.

As they plunged through the atmosphere friction on the craft’s forward-facing heat shield slowed its speed from 28,000km/h to 827km/h and raised the temperature to a scorching 1,600C.

The rapid deceleration pushed the crew into their shock-absorbing seats with a force of five times normal Earth gravity.

After a journey lasting less than an hour, the Soyuz TMA-19M descent module parachuted down to a remote spot on the vast Kazakhstan steppe to make a “bulls eye” landing. One second before touch down, a burst of fire from six retro rockets beneath the capsule reduced the impact speed to 5kph.

Peake was the second crew member to be lifted out of the capsule. Asked how he felt by waiting TV crews, he said: “Great, thanks. It was incredible. I’m just truly elated. The smells of the Earth are so strong. It’s wonderful to feel the fresh air.”


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