Major Peake said the experience, shared with American colleague Tim Kopra, was one he will “cherish forever”. British astronaut Tim Peake has described the highlight of his six month mission as being the “truly incredible” space walk he made on January 15 .
The two astronauts stepped outside the International Space Station (ISS) to replace a faulty electrical component and install cabling.
Unexpectedly they were given 10 minutes of free time, waiting for the sun to set behind planet Earth before it was safe to approach the solar arrays.
Speaking to journalists from the ISS, Maj Peake said: “Mission control in Houston told us that we had 10 minutes to hang out, take photographs and wait for the sun to set. That is unheard of on a space walk when normally every minute is accounted for.
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“That was truly incredible, just to be able to explore that part of the space station and look down on planet Earth, and also look behind me and look out into the darkness and the vastness of space while outside the space station. I think that really is a moment I will cherish forever.”
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The space walk was ended early after four hours and 43 minutes when Colonel Kopra reported water leaking into his helmet.
Maj Peake, who is due to return to Earth on June 18, said he was looking forward to “private time” with his family, fresh air – and the feeling of rain splashing on his face.
“This is going to sound truly remarkable but I most miss the rain,” said the astronaut.
“Perhaps that’s because I haven’t had a shower for six months. The feeling of nice cold drizzle on my face right now actually sounds blissful.”
He listed as one of his missions greatest achievements the success of educational outreach programmes aimed at schoolchildren.
“I think we’ve reached over a million children across the UK which is truly remarkable,” he said. “I hope that certainly will help to have an impact in inspiring our future scientists and engineers.”
In one experiment, children at thousands of schools will grow rocket plants from seeds that were exposed to weightless conditions on the space station.
In answer to other questions, Maj Peake said he would be “rooting for England” in the Euro 2016 football championship, but refused to be drawn on his views about Brexit .
“My views on Brexit are personal views and I don’t feel the need to impart them on anybody else,” he said.
He added: “In terms of co-operation and partnership .. I’m here floating in the most incredible achievement of not just European co-operation but international co-operation, and this space station would not exist if it wasn’t for all the international partners and what they have managed to achieve despite their political differences .. Hopefully that will continue into the future of space exploration as well.”
Maj Peake was speaking via a live link to the Times Cheltenham Science Festival.
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