British-born astronaut comes safely down to Earth

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British-born astronaut Dr Nicholas Patrick was preparing for a family Christmas last night after being reunited with his wife and three young children. Dr Patrick, originally from Saltburn, North Yorkshire, returned safely to Earth on Friday night after his mission on the space shuttle Discovery.

The 42-year-old spent 13 days as part of a seven-strong crew which installed a new segment of the International Space Station and brought home one of the station's long-serving crew members, German astronaut Thomas Reiter. On landing at Florida's Kennedy Space Center at the end of his 5.3 million-mile journey, Dr Patrick was "a bit woozy" but "fine".

Dr Patrick, who revealed that he had taken some of his mother's homemade marmalade with him to supplement Discovery's rations, will now spend Christmas with his wife, Dr Rossana Palomino, William, four, Cecilia, three, and two-month-old Cameron.

The astronaut was educated at Cambridge before pilot training with the Royal Air Force. He moved to the US after finishing his education and is now based in Houston, Texas.