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Astronaut Tim Peake reveals he’s desperate to return to space – for a surprising reason

MAJOR Tim Peake may have stepped down from his role as a professional astronaut, but he still has high hopes to return to the International Space Station.

Not for a space walk — or to photograph the sunrise 250 miles above the earth — but to save himself any back pain with a weightless night’s sleep.

Major Tim Peake has revealed that he would like to return to space – to help beat back pain[/caption]
Major Tim tells The Sun: ‘After my mission and back on earth, everything felt so heavy — you get back to the feeling of gravity’
Major Tim was launched into space in December 2015, to the sound of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now – pictured here on a spacewalk with his Union Jack space suit[/caption]

The former British Army Air Corps pilot, who was on board the international space station from 2015 to 2016, admits he forgot the feeling of gravity during his time in orbit.

After sleeping in a bag strapped to the wall for sixth months, he was quickly — and painfully — reminded how it felt when climbing into bed on his first week back on earth.

Major Tim tells The Sun: “After my mission and back on earth, everything felt so heavy — you get back to the feeling of gravity.

“You forget how punishing it really is on your body.

“Normally when you lie down after a busy day and you take the weight off your feet, you can feel yourself relaxing — but when you’ve been in space and you’ve been floating for months, you come back and everything feels very heavy.

“Sleeping is so painful — you’ve got all these pressure points on your body as you toss and turn, and you forget what it feels like.

“Get me back to space to sleep.”

Tim, 51, signed up as a European Space Agency astronaut in 2009, following 17 years and over 3,000 flying hours in the army as a captain and, later, a test pilot.

‘We’re making ground-breaking research’’

He was launched into space six years later in December 2015, to the sound of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, alongside Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and US astronaut Tim Kopra, before returning to Earth in June 2016.

But becoming a spaceman was never the plan for Tim, who was just keen for a career that challenged him intellectually and physically.

He explains: “Becoming an astronaut was not part of my long-term plan, but I’ve always liked to keep my options open when it comes to what I am doing next in my career.

“The more I got involved as a military test pilot, the more I realised that was the area I should be working in.

“It had that passion, and being an astronaut was just a follow-on.

“With my background as a test pilot and army officer, I was used to working in higher-risk environments, so my family was also prepared for the dangers of life in space.

“While there’s the contemplation and coming to terms with the danger, I knew what we were doing in space and the research was absolutely worth that risk.

“Though truthfully, I would suggest that being an astronaut is less risky than being a test pilot when it comes to what you have to do on a day-to-day basis, so it seemed like a natural progression.

“I’ve never been afraid of being in space, or any of the elements that go into a launch — which is all down to a mindset I get myself in really, like when I was caving in my 20s.

“I’d go into these dark holes and ravines, switch the lights out and sit in the darkness and silence before heading down these caves for six hours at a time.

“That stops you from feeling claustrophobic or having a panic attack, and I just felt the same launching in a rocket.”

Only 628 people have been in space — a fact which Tim could use as a humblebrag. But he insists it’s the rarity of the feat that keeps him grounded.

The dad-of-two adds that wanting to be with his family — wife Rebecca and their sons Thomas, 14, and Oliver, 11 — stops him from heading back to the ISS and beyond.

Tim says: “Coming back from my last mission, one of the first things I did when I got home was doing the washing up and emptying the rubbish bags, getting on with being a dad and a husband.

“I reckon we will be on Mars by the end of the 2030s, and if at that point someone is still willing to send me there and I’m not too old and decrepit, I would definitely go.

“I’d go then because my kids would be grown up and they wouldn’t need me any more, but right now I ought to be around on Earth a bit longer for them.”

Instead, Tim has turned his attentions to telly with his new three-part documentary series.

Inspired by the same wide-eyed wonder he shares with his sons, the astronaut made The Secrets Of Our Universe for Channel 5.

He is joined by a series of experts in space exploration and research as he travels across the globe from Arizona in the US to Western Australia for an in-depth look at the planets, black holes and living in space.

He plans to answer the questions that have been plaguing him for his entire life: How did we get here, what is life about and is there intelligent life beyond Earth?

Tim says: “I used to look out my bedroom window and just stare up at the sky and ask these questions, and I think that everybody at some point has that experience.

“I’ve never found myself getting bored with thinking about it, because space is fascinating and there’s really never a dull moment.

“Right now, we’re making ground-breaking moves in the research of whether there’s life beyond Earth.

“I think we will have an answer to that question, and some evidence, in the next 50 to 100 years thanks to new equipment to interrogate what’s out there much more accurately.”

And with the influx in funds pumped into research and discovery by billionaires around the world, the new frontier of discovery feels closer than ever.

SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Axiom Space are among the dozens of commercial companies now operating in the high-cost and high-reward sector.

‘Take off in London, land in Sydney in 45 minutes’

But despite mounting criticism of the billionaires’ space race, Tim admits he has no problem with the likes of Elon Musk and Richard Branson getting involved.

He says: “I equate it to looking at the 1920s and who was able to fly across the Atlantic.

“It was only high-net-worth individuals, but now it’s affordable to many — and I think that’s where we’re going to be with space travel thanks to these commercial companies.

“Sub-orbital trips currently land back at the same area of departure, but there’s no reason we couldn’t do trips that take off from London and land in Sydney after 45 minutes.

“It would be a game changer, provided we do it responsibly and sustainably.

“Of course, the public aren’t supportive of watching rich people on these sub-orbital flights, but we have to think further about where the technology might take us.

“We need these type of partnerships because, frankly, we cannot get to the moon without SpaceX, and Axiom, who are developing new space suits.

“These commercial companies are really important.”

The concern, he explains, lies with the nations not wanting to sign the Artemis Accords, a treaty for international co-operation in the exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Tim says: “Twenty-four nations have signed, but critically, Russia and China are not signed up and we need all the major players around the world to stick to the rules in space.

“Space, up until now, has pretty much been a peaceful endeavour, but clearly it has military connotations as space is the ultimate high ground from a military perspective.

Tim travels across the globe from Arizona in the US to Western Australia for an in-depth look at the planets, black holes and living in space for his new Channel 5 docuseries The Secrets Of Our Universe[/caption]
Tim with wife Rebecca and kids Thomas, left, and Oliver
Elon Musk is on a mission to launch flights to the stars[/caption]

“There’s also the concerns about the over-population of the space environment and the debris in space at the moment — while also making sure space launch and travel becomes a lot more sustainable.

“We’re operating under a 1967 treaty that isn’t fit for purpose any more, so it’s a bit like the Wild West at the moment.

“We need to update that framework so we’re all operating under the same rules and keeping space protected.”

  • Tim Peake’s The Secrets Of Our Universe begins on September 19 at 9pm on Channel 5.



Number of applicants Tim beat for a place on the European Space Agency astronaut training programme in 2009


Days Tim spent wearing his zero-gravity spacesuit in an underwater lab in 2012


Number of times Major Tim orbitted the Earth after his mission, covering 125million km


Tim was the first British ESA astronaut to complete a spacewalk

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