Major Tim Peake

Britain’s first official astronaut, Major Tim Peake, has been selected to fly on a five-month mission on the International Space Station in 2015; it is believed this will be on 15 December, 2015. The go-ahead for the flight will be seen as a major boost for the UK’s space industry. Peake graduated as a European Space Agency astronaut more than two years ago and has been waiting for a space mission since then.

On 15 January, 2016 Tim became the first Briton to walk in Space.


Tim was brought up in Westbourne village, where his journalist father and midwife mother still live, and attended Chichester High School for boys between 1983 and 1990. After his A levels he was selected for a commission in the Army and graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy in 1992 from which he joined The Royal Green Jackets. Having completed a two year tour of Northern Ireland as a Platoon Commander, Tim was selected for training as a helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps. He became a qualified helicopter pilot in 1994 and a qualified flight instructor in 1998. Following a posting to the US, he returned to Britain in 2002 to instruct trainees in flying Apache helicopters. . He went on to graduate from the prestigious Empire Test Pilot School at Boscombe Down and was awarded the Westland’s Trophy for best rotary wing student. Peake completed a BSc(Hons) in flight dynamics and evaluation at the University of Portsmouth the following year Peake left the army in 2009 after 17 years of service and over 3000 flying hours to his credit, becoming a test pilot with Augusta Westland.  

Peake was picked to be one of six new ESA astronauts who were selected, in 2009, from several thousand candidates. During their 14-month training programme, the six travelled to NASA’s astronaut base in Houston, to the Russian astronaut training centre in Star City outside Moscow, to Tsukuba Space Centre in Japan, and spent two weeks on a survival course in Sardinia. To improve their Russian language skills, the astronauts spent a month lodging with families in St Petersburg. 

It was feared the former army helicopter pilot might be given a short-duration mission because the UK only makes modest contributions to ESA’s manned space programme. Major contributors such as France, Germany and Italy were expected to have priority. However, it is believed that 41-year-old Peake has been assigned a lengthy stay in orbit in 2015. He will be blasted into space on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan in November that year and flown to the space station where he will stay for five months. He will be able to take part in spacewalks and other complex scientific activities.

The news of Peake’s mission was welcomed by Nick Spall, of the British Interplanetary Society, which has been campaigning for years for the government to change past policy and allow the UK to have official astronauts. “At last this has come about with a flight slot to the International Space Station (ISS) for Tim Peake,” he said. “The UK can now join in with important microgravity research work on the space station, win industrial contracts for future human spaceflight projects and forge new links with NASA, Russia and hopefully China – and one day India – in space. Many young people will be inspired by Tim. It will also help boost the UK’s technical employment potential for jobs and industry.”

Peake, who is married with two sons, is considered to be Britain’s first official astronaut because in the past those UK citizens who have flown in space have either been privately funded for their missions – such as Helen Sharman who flew on a Russian rocket in 1991 – or have taken out American citizenship, such as Nick Foale and Piers Sellers, who have both flown on the US space shuttle.









Tim visits The School

Tim Peake has been honoured by the School by naming its new Sports Hall after him in recognition of his remarkable achievement at being selected as an astronaut for the ESA. He will, undoubtedly, act as an inspirational rôle model for current students and former pupils of the school. He has also returned to the school to give career guidance talks.