Britain’s first astronaut to go on space mission in 2015

London, May 19 (IANS) Britain’s first “official” astronaut, 41-year-old Major Tim Peake, has been selected to go on a five-month mission to the International Space Station in 2015, a media report said Sunday.

Peake, a former army helicopter pilot, graduated as a European Space Agency astronaut more than two years ago and has been waiting for a space mission since then, the Guardian daily said.

However, Peake has been assigned a lengthy stay in orbit in 2015.

He will take off on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan in November 2015, and will take part in spacewalks and other complex scientific activities.

British space officials are, however, yet to reveal any information about Peake’s forthcoming mission, the daily said.

Peake, who is married and has two sons, is considered to be Britain’s first official astronaut because British citizens who have flown to space in the past have either been privately funded for their missions or have made the space journey as citizens of other countries.

Helen Sharman flew on a Russian rocket in 1991, and Nick Foale and Piers Sellers have both flown on the US space shuttle, after taking American citizenship.

Peake was picked to be one of six ESA astronauts who were selected, in 2009, from several thousand candidates.

During their 14-month training programme, the six travelled to NASA’s astronaut base in Houston, the Russian astronaut training centre in Star City outside Moscow, Tsukuba Space Centre in Japan, and spent two weeks on a survival course in Sardinia.

Peake completed his training in November 2010 and has been waiting to be assigned a spaceflight.

However, he has denied that the wait was causing problems.

“No, it doesn’t get frustrating at all – there’s just so much going on, so much diversity, and there’s brilliant training all along the way,” he told BBC.

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