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From 400km above the Earth, Britain’s first ESA astronaut became a household name. A former military test pilot, Tim shared his experiences and incredible photos on social media, and spoke to over 1.5million schoolchildren across Europe about the power of science.
Tim Peake was the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first British astronaut to travel to the International Space Station. Previously an Army Air Corp officer and test pilot, his work on the ISS and active engagement with the public back on Earth has made him a household name and role model to millions. After stepping down from the active ESA astronaut corps to assume an ambassadorial role, Tim has announced he will come out of retirement to lead the UK’s first astronaut mission.
Following a distinguished military career where he rose to the rank of Major, Tim applied to the ESA’s astronaut programme. Beating over nine thousand other applicants, he undertook a gruelling training programme that covered everything from living in Sardinian caves to spending twelve days underwater. Tim and two fellow astronauts led the Principia mission, a six-month scientific research mission. Tim undertook over two hundred and fifty experiments, a spacewalk to repair the ISS power supply, helped to dock two spacecrafts, and piloted a simulated Mars exploration. Much of his mission focused on not just the scientific work of the ISS but in communicating it to the public. In regular contact via video and social media with Earth, Tim spoke to over a million schoolchildren across Europe from 400km above the planet.
A passionate ambassador for STEM subjects, Tim regularly appears in the media speaking about the importance of science, and has authored several books on the subject. In Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space, he answers the most common questions on life in space, from the feeling of travelling at 8km per second to sleeping and eating in weightlessness. He took a broader look at the subject in Space: The Human Story, where he traced the lives of the remarkable men and women who have forged the way in space.
In speeches, Tim looks at everything from the future of spaceflight to the lessons he’s learnt about leadership and teamwork. He discusses control, risk, decision-making and performing in high-pressured environments and considers the concept of ‘followership’, where individual skills and goals take second place to supporting the group leader. He touches on the demands this can place on two-way communication, problem solving, and the importance of understanding everyone’s role and strengths to be an asset to the team and to the leader. Tim also shares his thoughts on the future of medicine, science, and space research, as well as anedcotes from his work as an astronaut, from what it feels like to look down on earth and see its extraordinary beauty and fragility, to what happens when you think a UFO is heading towards you.
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