The man who will become
During the long selection and training process, including gruelling medical and psychological testing, leading towards his six months in 2015 in the space station, he was delighted to see a political U-turn, and the government back in the programme.
The first Briton in space was scientist
Peake told the
In the first round he faced a barrage of hours of computer-based tests, progressively harder and with only short breaks.
"Skills such as memory retention, concentration, spatial awareness and coordination were evaluated, alongside psychological questionnaires that were to become the benchmark of this selection process – hundreds of repetitive questions, aimed at ensuring consistency of answers over a long duration," he recalled.
The medical selection proved an even more brutal sorting hat, with just half the candidates, from all over
"Although good physical fitness is a strong attribute, the medical selection was not looking for potential Olympians," Peake said. "Instead, it was intended to select those individuals who pose the least risk of having a medical occurrence during their career. Space is no place to become ill – and although the Soyuz spacecraft offers an emergency return to Earth in less than 12 hours from the
He described the tests as "the most invasive week of my life, which, among other things, had included a double enema followed by a sigmoidoscopy. (Don't ask.)"
Eventually there were just 22 left including five Britons. The phone call saying he was among the final 10 chosen came as he sat with a glass of wine outside his army quarters at Larkhill in
Last May, with
"But what had the greatest impact on me was the British government's decision, during the ESA ministerial council in
Even after surviving the selection, there was no guarantee he would get into space. "Some astronauts wait well over 10 years for that first flight – and for some it has never transpired," he said. So when he learned he had been assigned a six-month mission, joining an American and a Russian astronaut, "there was a feeling of relief, mixed with a renewed focus, clarity and stability for future plans".
Further training will take place in the US,
He described the space station as "arguably one of the most complex engineering structures that mankind has assembled". The journey from blast off to arrival at the station in the Soyuz space capsule used to take almost three days, but can now be achieved in six hours.
Peake said: "Seeing the Earth from space will undoubtedly be one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights I will ever witness, and will provide a unique perspective from which to reflect on the wonders of our universe and our place in it."
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