Express & Star

"You roll the dice and might not come home" - Astronaut Tim Peake opens up in Birmingham talk

“The hardest thing about space is saying goodbye to your family.”

Tim Peake

Astronaut Major Tim Peake has carried out multiple space walks, driven a rover from space, and carried out 250 scientific experiments during his challenging, intense missions off-Earth – but he still says the hardest thing about going into the great unknown is saying goodbye to his wife Rebecca and his two sons Oliver and Thomas.

“You want it to be happy - you’ve sacrificed a huge amount to get to that point but also you’re putting yourself in harms way.

“Even today about 10 per cent of all launches fail.

“You’re rolling the dice and you might not be coming home.

“So when you’re looking your children in the eye and saying goodbye, you’re saying please don’t let this be the last time.”

The world-famous astronaut – born and raised in West Sussex – was at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall last night on the latest leg of his tour Tim Peake: My Journey To Space.

His visit had drawn a generous crowd, with several budding astronauts in the audience eager to pick up tips and tricks for their hopeful career.

And he had a treat in store for his waiting audience, with breathtaking photographs and never before seen incredible footage of his time in space.

He gave a fascinating insight into what it’s really like to be an astronaut, from training to launch, from space walk to reentry.

It was on January 15, 2016, that Tim Peake made history as the first man to complete a space walk wearing the British flag.

The 49-year-old is the seventh UK-born person to visit space – and has spent a total amount of time of 185 days, 22 hours and 11 minutes in the stratosphere. Yet despite his challenging career, the father and husband was all smiles up on stage at The Symphony Hall.

Laughing, Peake asked the crowd: “How did a small ginger boy from West Sussex make it on to a rocket in the first place?”

During the talk he shared warming snaps of his time as a child, posing with his sister atop of his grandfathers car, giving fans a glimpse into the life he lead before he embarked onto the incredible journey into space.

“I had a normal, ordinary upbringing,” he said. “I had a loving and stable family environment. Lots of friends down the road and countryside to play in.”

He talked about his passion for flying being clear from an early age, which led to him joining the cadets as a boy. It’s fair to say I didn’t excel at school,” he spoke. “I wasn’t academically gifted and I didn’t shine in sports. But when it came to cadets this is something I was good at, passionate about.”

During his training, Peake was briefly based at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire – and sampled many of the curry houses in Shrewsbury during his time there. Tim’s tour continues tonight in Leicester.

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