Tim Peake leaves space for ambassadorship20th Jan 2023
Tim Peake, the UK’s second astronaut and first to fly to the International Space Station, has stepped down from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) astronaut corps. Aligning with Peake’s previous endeavors in encouraging young people to pursue careers in STEM, the astronaut will take up an official role as an ambassador for space, working with both the ESA and UK Space Agency. The move comes only months after the new ESA astronaut class was announced in November 2022.
Leaving a legacy
Amid the International Space Station being built in 1998, ESA decided to unite its previous astronaut teams from different Member States and create a single astronaut corp. According to TimPeake.com, Peake had already completed 18 years of military service working as a pilot, and in 2009, he decided to apply as an astronaut with the ESA, following the first time UK citizens were included in the selection.
Peake was selected among five other classmates, and five years later in 2014, he was finally assigned to fly up to the ISS for the Principia mission.
Launching to the ISS on 15th January 2016, Peake accomplished several firsts during his six months in the orbital laboratory, including becoming the first UK citizen to complete a spacewalk and running the London marathon on a treadmill from orbit. Along with completing several experiments and engaging with schools for science projects on the ISS, Peake has been a fundamental figure of inspiration when it comes to space. From 1st October, 2019, Peake took an unpaid leave of absence from ESA that was intended to last two years, where he worked closely with the UKSA for outreach and education.
Peake said being an ESA astronaut has been an “extraordinary experience” over the past thirteen years. He continued: “By assuming the role of an ambassador for human spaceflight, I shall continue to support ESA and the UK Space Agency, with a focus on educational outreach, and I look forward to the many exciting opportunities ahead”.
According to the UKSA, ESA’s director general Josef Aschbacher paid tribute to Tim Peake, celebrating his 13 years as an astronaut:
“Tim has been a role model for kids, aspiring youngsters and young professionals alike, inspiring millions of them and at the same time being an excellent ambassador for the whole of ESA, its values and its ambition – I would like to thank Tim most sincerely and am looking forward to his continued involvement with the Agency.”
While Tim Peake officially says goodbye to the astronaut corps, the UK’s third career astronaut Rosemary Coogan, reserve astronaut Meganne Christian, and the first astronaut with a physical disability, John McFall, will continue the British representation in space.