Tim Peake says a lunar expedition would be his ‘dream’ mission

Tim Peake press conference

Tim is the eighth ESA astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in space having spent a whopping 186 days on the ISS.

His six-month stay in space will help ESA to plan for its ambitious ExoMars mission which involves sending a series of probes and rovers to the red planet to pave the way for manned flights in future.

Peake is confident that humans will eventually be able to spend long periods of time in space, once several key physical challenges have been solved.

Tim Peake of Britain waves shortly after landing

Tim Peake waves shortly after landing

“From a psychological point of view, it’s very easy to adapt to life in space,” explained Peake.

“We have to overcome the physical problems – radiation exposure on a Mars mission for example, the logistics, the life science, the propulsion technologies to try and reduce the transit times”.

“In terms of the physical fitness, we’ve got some great counter measure in space now, what we need to work out is how we make them smaller and lighter so we can use them on a vehicle destined for Mars.”

The Soyuz TMA-19M capsule carrying International Space Station (ISS) crew members Tim Peake of Britain, Yuri Malenchenko of Russia and Tim Kopra of the U.S. descends beneath a parachute just before landing near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan
The Soyuz carrying Peake and his two crew mates descends beneath a parachute
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Acting as a human guinea pig, Peake’s first week back from space is set to be packed with medical tests. He’ll continue to be monitored for at least six months to see how quickly his body recovers from the microgravity environment of space.

“These assessments are incredibly important for us to learn as much as we possibly can about the body,” explained Peake.

The British astronaut explained that while he felt fine and ready to work after getting used to the microgravity, the adjustment takes up valuable time.

“In the first 24 hours after landing it would be very, very hard. It’s not the muscular-skeletal system – you have the strength to operate. I think it’s the vertigo, dizziness and nausea that come with being in this 1G environment.”

The Soyuz capsule carrying Peake and his two crewmates
Commander Yuri Malenchenko, NASA’s Tim Kopra and Major Tim Peake shortly before returning to Earth

He said that future missions could use centrifuges on spacecraft to make the transition easier so that when people land on Mars they’ll ‘be in better shape right from day one’.

“We’re ready for the next mission beyond the space station”, said Peake.

Speaking on Britain’s place in the future of human space, the former British Army pilot highlighted the importance of the country’s involvement.

“Once you start building a space station, if you’re not involved in that space station from the beginning, it’s very hard to jump on board later on. It’s hard for the industry and scientists to catch up and at some point we’ll be too far behind,” he said in reference to future missions.

“We need to be on board right now,” said Peake.

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