The UK’s inaugural astronaut mission will be led by the most recent British astronaut to retire from space exploration.
In 2015, Tim Peake, who is now 51 years old, served as a European Space Agency astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS). He will be leading the upcoming mission.
Axiom, an American company that arranges trips to the ISS, is spearheading the UK mission to send four British astronauts into space. The total cost of the project is estimated at £200m, but there will be no financial involvement from British taxpayers.
Peake expressed his excitement about the current developments in the space sector and the UK’s potential to lead the way in exploring commercial opportunities during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.
He stated that there are multiple obstacles that must be addressed before the mission can proceed, including securing the financial model, selecting and training the crew, obtaining approval from Nasa, and identifying a designated slot for the mission to the International Space Station.
“It is still the beginning and there are multiple stages ahead, but it is great that we have initiated the process with these preliminary conversations.”
George Freeman, a Member of Parliament and a minister in the science department, expressed excitement about the possibility of a groundbreaking UK mission with Axiom Space. He believes this has the potential to inspire a new generation to aim for the stars, while also contributing to the development of a cutting-edge and appealing space economy. He eagerly anticipates the progress of this exploratory work.
We aim to make the UK a leader in the global competition for commercial space funding. We will also provide ongoing support for scientists and engineers to experiment with new technologies and conduct vital research. Ultimately, our goal is to bring these benefits back to the people and businesses throughout the country.
Although the three crew members who will accompany Peake on the mission are yet to be formally announced, the Telegraph reports that they are expected to be the British paralympian John McFall, who is the world’s first disabled astronaut, the astronomer Rosemary Coogan, and the industrial chemist Meganne Christian.
“I am excited for Axiom Space to collaborate with the UK Space Agency on a potential human spaceflight mission. This agreement will serve as the starting point for developing a thorough mission plan that aligns with the UK’s goals and objectives in advancing its space exploration and discovery capabilities.”
“Collectively, we will explore the advantages of microgravity and strive to expand the limits of ingenuity in order to progress our society.”