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British astronaut Tim Peake: space was 'great'

Zulfikar AbbanyJune 21, 2016

Three days after returning to Earth, the British astronaut called his six-month stay at the International Space Station a "huge privilege." Peake is undergoing health checks at the European Space Agency's Envihab.

Tim Peake at an ESA press conference after his return from the ISS. (Photo: DW/ Zulfikar Abbany)
Image: DW/Z. Abbany

When British astronaut Tim Peake and fellow crew members Yuri Malenchenko of Russia and American Tim Kopra were pulled out of a Soyuz TMA 19M capsule on Saturday, they looked a little bewildered by Earth, hot and just a bit shattered.

Speaking at the European Astronaut Center (EAC) on Tuesday, Peake looked relaxed again.

"I would go back in a heartbeat," said Peake, "It's an incredibly privileged situation to be in. On one day you could be working on six experiments."

Peake is the first British astronaut to have been part of a mission to the International Space Station. While there, he became the first Briton to ever go on a spacewalk.

Bombarded by Earth's "strong smells"

After six months at the International Space Station, Peake, Malenchenko and Kopra were bombarded by Earth's "strong smells" at their landing site near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Tim Peake in his astronaut suit. (Photo: SHAMIL ZHUMATOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Peake arrived back on Earth on Saturday and then traveled from Kazakhstan to CologneImage: Getty Images/AFP/S. Zhumatov

Peake said it was was "wonderful to be back and breathe the fresh air."

He also said he would welcome a burst of refreshing rain. "It's very very hot! the capsule is very hot and the suit is as well," he said. "Some cool rain right now would be lovely."

UK in European space

Peake, David Parker, the director of ESA's Human and Robotic Exploration and Frank De Winne, an astronaut and former ISS commander, were keen to stress the UK's involvement in European space exploration. On Thursday, Britain votes in a referendum on whether to leave the European Union or stay.

But Peake was reluctant to say which way he would vote: "Voting is a personal thing, so I'm not going to say."

Health checks at Envihab

Soon after returning, Peake was transferred to the European Space Agency's EAC near Cologne. He has been undergoing health checks at the site's Envihab to monitor his progress as he readjusts to gravity.

Scientists are comparing data from before, during, and after his six month mission.

During his sixth months in space, Peake tried to stay fit. He even ran the 42 kilometer London marathon in April and entered the Guinness Book of Records.

But living without gravity for six months will have had an extreme affect on Peake's muscles, vital organs, and metabolism - as it does for every astronaut.

He didn't lose a lot of weight during the six months, but his muscle distribution needs to be corrected.

After German Alexander Gerst and Dane Andreas Mogensen, Peake is the third European astronaut to enter the Envihab after returning from space.