Wow! what a great couple of days!
I spent Wednesday evening in the wonderful Firth Hall at Sheffield University with Major Tim Peake.
But, Who is Major Tim Peake?
*please note, the following information is a slightly adapted version of the information from the ESA website’s astronaut biographies page.
Tim Peake is a European Space Agency Astronaut, born in Chichester on 7 April 1972. Married with two sons. He enjoys skiing, scuba diving and cross country running among his leisure activities. He also enjoys reading.
In 1992, Tim graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as an officer in the British Army Air Corps. In 2005, he graduated from the Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) in Boscombe Down, where he was awarded the Westland Trophy, and received a Bachelor of Science in flight dynamics and evaluation from the University of Portsmouth in 2006.
Tim qualified as a helicopter flying instructor in 1998 just before being selected for an exchange posting with the US Army, flying Apache helicopters at Fort Hood, Texas (1999-2002). On his return to the UK, he was employed as an Apache helicopter instructor from 2002 to 2005, during which time he was instrumental in introducing the Apache into service with the British Army.
How did Tim Peake become an Astronaut?
Tim was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. He joined ESA in September of that year and successfully completed his Astronaut Basic Training in November 2010.
Over the past few days I have heard Tim talk about his experiences as an ESA astronaut and especially his 12 days in an underwater base almost 20 m below the sea for NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO). NEEMO allows space agencies to test technologies and research international crew behaviour for long-duration missions – like going to Mars!
So what have I got out of these few days?
There is far more to being an astronaut than I imagined, but I learned that anyone can become one! Scientists, army personnel, chemists, even school teachers can become astronauts! The key is to have had experience or a career with skills that can be used in space and be willing to learn new skills.
I’m inspired to be the first Hedgehog in space!