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Tim Peake 'elated' to be back on Earth

Press AssociationPress Association 18/06/2016

British astronaut Tim Peake is preparing to give his first press conference since returning to Earth from the International Space Station.

The briefing will be held at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany on Tuesday.

Major Peake, 44, will describe the fiery descent from orbit, answer questions about his physical condition, and assess his six month mission.

During his 186 days on the ISS the former helicopter test pilot participated in more than 250 scientific experiments, performed a space walk, ran the London Marathon on a treadmill, and inspired more than a million schoolchildren with educational outreach activities.

His achievements earned him a Queen's Birthday honour that was out of this world - Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for "extraordinary service beyond our planet".

On Saturday Peake and crew mates American NASA astronaut Colonel Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko made the trip back to Earth in a tiny Soyuz space capsule measuring just about two metres across.

As they plunged through the atmosphere friction on the craft's forward-facing heat shield slowed its speed from 28,000km/h to 827km/h and raised the temperature to a scorching 1,600C.

The rapid deceleration pushed the crew back into their shock-absorbing seats with a force of up to five gee - five times normal Earth gravity.

Peake was the second crew member to be lifted out of the capsule.

Asked how he felt by waiting TV crews, he said: "Great, thanks. It was incredible - the best ride I've been on ever.

"I'm just truly elated. The smells of the Earth are so strong. It's just wonderful to feel the fresh air.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the family now."

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