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Ground control to Major Tim

Spotlight on: Tim Peake is the charismatic astronaut who visited the International Space Station for six months on his historic Principia mission, His book, Ask an Astronaut, answers all the wonderfully funny and serious questions his young fans have asked him since his return to Earth.

During his mission, Tim conducted numerous groundbreaking science experiments and engaged the British public in ingenious ways. Tim became the first British astronaut to complete a spacewalk and the first person to run the London marathon in space. He spoke to hundreds of thousands of school children back on Earth via events such as the Cosmic Classroom live from the ISS, engaging over 1 million children during the whole mission.

“It’s the blackest black you could possibly imagine”

He was also involved in other memorable events, such as presenting the BRIT Awards live from space in a dinner jacket. Tim is married with two sons and enjoys skiing, scuba diving, cross-country running, climbing and mountaineering and he completed the London Marathon in 2006. His other interests include quantum physics and aviation. Here Tim offers School Notices a cosmic taster of Ask an Astronaut…

What was your luxury item on board?

The item that I got the most pleasure from was definitely my camera.

How long does it take to get to orbit?

The entire launch sequence took a thrilling 8 minutes and 48 seconds from launch pad to orbit.

What surprised you the most when you first got into space?

Just how black space appeared during the daytime. It’s the blackest black you could possibly imagine, and it looks truly remarkable.

What is the best bit about floating?

It’s very relaxing and a wonderfully liberating sensation as you don’t have to work against Earth’s gravity.

What was the grossest thing about living in space?

Ha, what a great question! By far the grossest thing about living in space is watching the soles of your feet disintegrate during the first couple of months in space.

How do you wash your clothes in space?

There is no washing machine on the space station and water is a very precious resource, so we just wear the same clothes for several days before we exchange them for a new item.

How do you cut your hair and shave in space?

Cutting hair in space is actually remarkably easy. We use a set of hair clippers that have been modified to include a rubber-tube attachment to a vacuum cleaner.

What was your favourite space food?

There were several foods that I really enjoyed in space. Unsurprisingly, the food prepared by Heston Blumenthal and his team topped the list.

What was your most essential item/tool on board?

I always carried a small torch and a Leatherman multi-tool on me. Both items I used several times a day.

How do you become an astronaut?

There are certain skills and characteristics that you need to possess as an astronaut. Some of these attributes may surprise you – being good at languages is extremely useful. Academic requirements only get you so far. It is your drive, your enthusiasm and above all, your personality and character that will enable you to succeed.

Ask an Astronaut, by Tim Peake, published by Century in hardback £20. Tim is pleased to announce that, as with his previous book, royalties received from the book will be donated to The Prince’s Trust



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