He is the first British ESA astronaut, the second astronaut to bear a British flag patch (the first was Helen Sharman), the sixth person born in the United Kingdom to go on board the International Space Station (the first was NASA astronaut Michael Foale in 2003) and the seventh UK-born person in space (the first was Helen Sharman, who visited Mir as part of Project Juno in 1991). He began the ESA's intensive astronaut basic training course in September 2009 and graduated on 22 November 2010.
Military and aeronautical
Upon graduation from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Peake received a short-service commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps on 8 August 1992. He served as a platoon commander with the Royal Green Jackets, and was promoted to lieutenant on 8 August 1994. On 9 July 1997, he transferred to a regular commission, receiving a promotion to captain on 20 August. Peake became a qualified helicopter pilot in 1994 and a qualified helicopter instructor in 1998, graduating from CFS(H) at the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire. Promoted to major on 31 July 2004, he graduated from the Empire Test Pilots School in Wiltshire the following year, and was awarded the Westland's Trophy for best rotary wing student. He then served on Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron (RWTES) at MOD Boscombe Down completing trials on Apache helicopters.
Peake completed a BSc (Hons) in Flight Dynamics and Evaluation at the University of Portsmouth the following year. Peake left the army in 2009 after 17 years of service and over 3,000 flying hours to his credit, becoming a test pilot with AgustaWestland.
Peake beat over 9,000 other applicants for one of the six places on the ESA's new astronaut training programme. The selection process included taking academic tests, fitness assessments and several interviews. Peake moved to Cologne with his family for the ESA training.
Peake has become the first British or UK-born person to fly into space without a private contract (Helen Sharman – the first Briton in space) or foreign citizenship (Michael Foale, Gregory H. Johnson, Piers Sellers, Nicholas Patrick, Richard Garriott and Mark Shuttleworth).
As part of his extensive astronaut training in 2011, Peake and five other astronauts joined an international mission, living in and exploring cave systems in Sardinia. This mission enabled them to study how humans react to living in extreme conditions with complete isolation from the outside world. This expedition gave the team an idea of what they could expect and how they would cope in the confined space of the ISS.
On 16 April 2012, NASA announced that Peake would serve as an aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 16 undersea exploration mission, scheduled to begin on 11 June 2012 and last twelve days. The NEEMO 16 crew successfully "splashed down" at 11:05 am on 11 June. On the morning of 12 June, Peake and his crewmates officially became aquanauts, having spent over 24 hours underwater. The crew safely returned to the surface on 22 June.
International Space Station mission
Peake was launched to the International Space Station (ISS), on 15 December 2015, for Expeditions 46 and 47. He launched successfully at 11:03 GMT from Baikonur Cosmodrome on board Soyuz TMA-19M. The official website dedicated to his mission is principia.org.uk.
Whilst docking, the Kurs docking navigation system failed, and a manual docking was performed by Yuri Malenchenko. This delayed docking with the ISS by 10 minutes. The Soyuz finally docked with the ISS at 17:33 GMT. Peake received messages of support from the Queen and Elton John, after the successful docking. His first meal at the ISS was a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea.
Peake supported a spacewalk by two American astronauts on 21 December 2015. He participated in the first spacewalk outside the ISS by a British astronaut on 15 January 2016. The purpose of the spacewalk was to replace a faulty sequential shunt unit on the station's solar arrays.
On 24 April 2016, Peake ran the 2016 London Marathon from the ISS treadmill. Peake became the first man to run a marathon from space and the second person to run a marathon in space, after Sunita Williams, who ran the 2007 Boston Marathon from the ISS.
Peake was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to space research and scientific education.
On 18 June 2016, Peake returned to earth from the ISS aboard the descent module of the Soyuz spacecraft that had taken him to the space station in December 2015. The spacecraft landed on the Kazakh steppe in Kazakhstan almost 300 miles south west of the major city of Karaganda, landing at 09.15 UTC. Peake had completed approximately 3000 orbits of the Earth and had covered a distance of 125 million kilometres (78 million miles).
International Space Station partnership and the Nobel Peace Prize
|“||Life up here is absolutely spectacular ... amazing view of Earth ... way beyond my expectation.||”|
|— Tim Peake, during his first news conference from the ISS.|
At the UK National Student Space Conference in early 2014, Peake expressed his support for the initiative to award the International Space Station partnership the Nobel Peace Prize.
"I was delighted to read about the International Space Station and the discussions about it being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because … it has been one of the most incredible international partnerships...[The ISS] really has brought many nations together through difficult times, and continues to do so."
Peake noted that with increasing constraints on space programs around the world, collaborative initiatives such as ISS will be necessary for future endeavours. "I think [the ISS] really has to be the model for future space exploration because with budgets becoming more and more constrained, then, really one nation is not going to have the capability to expand exploration out into the solar system, to Mars and beyond. We are going to have to work together on projects."