Lift-off for first British astronaut

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The Independent Online

It was a case of "ground control to Major Tim – where are you?" yesterday as Britain's first official astronaut missed his train back from Paris after the announcement that he was one of the six European astronauts with the right stuff to join the next generation to fly in space.

The 37-year-old test pilot is more accustomed to flying Apache attack helicopters than catching the Eurostar. "It's been a busy 48 hours and I'm just absorbing what has happened," Major Peake said yesterday.

"As a test pilot, to become an astronaut is really the pinnacle of one's career, but from my point of view it is both a culmination of a childhood dream as well as the pinnacle of my aviation career. Obviously, it's an incredibly privileged position to be in."

The European Space Agency said that Major Peake now has a real chance of being one of the chosen few who will fly to the International Space Station "and beyond" over the next 10 years of European space exploration.