Tim Peake retires from astronaut to become ‘space ambassador’

Tim Peake - Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Tim Peake – Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Tim Peake has announced that the European Space Agency (ESA) will resign from its astronaut corps, meaning it will no longer be considered for a mission to the Moon.

Britain’s first official astronaut, Major Peake, went to the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2015, and ESA said they will send him into space for a second time.

There were even hopes that Nasa and Esa would be included in the Artemis project, which aims to return humans to the Moon.

But on Friday Major Peake announced that he would be retiring from the astronaut corps to become a “space ambassador” working with the UK Space Agency to encourage more young people into the field.

“Being an ESA astronaut has been the most extraordinary experience,” he said.

“I have had the privilege of working with an extraordinary team of dedicated people over the past 13 years at the agency, which has been incredibly exciting and rewarding.

“As an ambassador for manned spaceflight, I will continue to support ESA and the UK Space Agency with a focus on educational outreach and look forward to the many exciting opportunities ahead.”

Tim Peake in space - NASA/Reuters

Tim Peake in space – NASA/Reuters

Chichester-born Peake, who turned 50 last year, spent 18 years in the military flying helicopters before becoming an astronaut.

He spent 186 days on the ISS and became the first person to perform a spacewalk in support of the Union Jack.

Peake has since held several ESA positions, including head of astronaut operations, but has repeatedly spoken of his hopes of returning to space.

Speaking at the Blue Dot festival last summer, he said: “I would love to do another spacewalk. It was absolutely great. I would love to go to the moon. I would love to get out of low Earth orbit.

“The ideal mission for me would be one of the Artemis missions returning to the Moon in the very near future.”

Tim Peake - European Space Agency/PA

Tim Peake – European Space Agency/PA

ESA announced its latest cohort of astronauts, including Rosemary Coogan, the world’s first astronaut with physical disabilities, John McFall, and Meganne Christian, member of the ESA astronaut reserve, during the ESA Council of Ministers 2022, held in Paris in November 2022.

Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “Tim Peake is an incredible ambassador for the UK space industry and has played a leading role over the past decade.

“Not only did he conduct important scientific work during the historic Principia mission aboard the International Space Station and while on Earth, he also inspired millions with his passion for space and the opportunities it offered.”

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