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Tim Peake announces retirement as an astronaut

British astronaut Tim Peake has announced his retirement as an astronaut (Picture: Getty Images)

British astronaut Major Tim Peake is retiring from his role as a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut.

Maj Peake will take on the role of an ambassador for the agency, with the aim of helping young people to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

He was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009 and became the first British ESA astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2015.

He is also the second British citizen to fly to space after Helen Sharman, who travelled into space as part of Project Juno – a private British space programme.

The spaceman, who has been on sabbatical since October 2019, said: ‘I have had the privilege of working with an exceptional team of dedicated individuals during the past 13 years with the agency, which has been incredibly exciting and rewarding.

‘By assuming the role of an ambassador for human spaceflight, I shall continue to support ESA and the UK Space Agency, with a focus on educational outreach, and I look forward to the many exciting opportunities ahead.’

After training as an astronaut, the former British Army Air Corps helicopter pilot spent six months in space as part of the Principia mission.

It included a spacewalk to repair the space station’s power supply and participating in more than 250 scientific experiments.

IN SPACE - DECEMBER 18: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) (NO SALES) In this handout image supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA), ESA astronaut Tim Peake gives the thumbs up in zero gravity days after his arrival on the International Space Station, December 18, 2015. Expedition 46-47 crewmembers ESA astronaut Tim Peake, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut commander Yuri Malenchenko were welcomed aboard the International Space Station by Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Korniyenko and Oleg Kononenko, and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly for a six-month mission, as part of Expedition 46. (Photo by ESA via Getty Images)

Tim Peake gives the thumbs up in zero gravity days after his arrival on the International Space Station, December 18, 2015 (Picture: ESA via Getty Images)

He also broke world records by becoming the first man to complete a marathon in space, finishing in three hours, 35 minutes and 21 seconds.

During his time in space, Maj Peake engaged more than two million schoolchildren across Europe in over 30 projects.

Dr Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, paid tribute, saying: ‘Tim Peake is an incredible ambassador for the UK space sector and has played a leading role over the past decade.

‘Not only has he carried out important scientific work, during his historic Principia mission to the International Space Station and while on Earth, but he has inspired millions with his passion for space and the opportunities it offers.

‘Tim has played a huge role in promoting Stem education and space careers, and has shone a light on the hundreds of roles involved in getting an astronaut into space, and across the wider space sector.’

epa05374409 A handout photo provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 18 June 2016 shows Tim Peake (C) of the European Space Agency (ESA) being carried by ground personnel to a medical tent after he along with Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos and Tim Kopra of NASA landed in a Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft in a remote area near the town of Dzhezkazgan (Zhezkazgan), Kazakhstan, 18 June 2016. Kopra, Peake and Malenchenko returned after six months in space where they served as members of the Expedition 46 and 47 crews onboard the International Space Station ISS.  EPA/BILL INGALLS/NASA/HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: NASA/BILL INGALLS HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Peake being carried by ground personnel to a medical tent after he landed in a Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft in a remote area in Kazakhstan in 2016 (Picture: Nasa)

The announcement comes after the ESA unveiled its new astronaut candidates last year, including three British citizens – Rosemary Coogan, John McFall and Meganne Christian.

Former Paralympian Mr McFall is taking part in a feasibility study to see if he can fly as a disabled astronaut, while Ms Coogan is due to begin training in April.

Ms Christian is the ESA’s reserve astronaut and could join the astronaut corps in the event of someone else dropping out.

ESA’s director general Josef Aschbacher said: ‘Tim has been a role model for kids, aspiring youngsters and young professionals alike, inspiring millions of them and at the same time being an excellent ambassador for the whole of ESA, its values and its ambition – I would like to thank Tim most sincerely and am looking forward to his continued involvement with the Agency.’


MORE : James Webb Space Telescope spots first alien planet – and it’s similar to Earth


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