British astronaut Tim Peake is counting down to lift off with his all-new tour Astronauts: The Quest To Explore Space which will bring the awe and wonder of space travel past, present and future to venues this autumn.


Tim made history in 2015 when he became the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS), where he spent six months living and working in space.


And now he’s looking forward to a potential return to space, as part of a commercially sponsored, UK mission which could see him return to the ISS.


In his new tour, Astronauts: The Quest To Explore Space Tim will tell the stories of astronauts through history, as he brings to life the awe-inspiring adventures of those pioneering explorers – celebrating the incredible achievements and historic human endeavour of space exploration.


The first-of-its-kind show, set to visit 25 venues across England, Scotland and Wales, will follow the huge success of Tim’s sold-out debut tour My Journey To Space, which ran from 2021 to 2023.


Tickets are on sale now from www.fane.co.uk/tim-peake or direct from venues.


The new tour will be fast-paced, fun and entertaining,” Tim promises. “It will be a behind the scenes look at human spaceflight; the excitement, the drama, the highs and lows, right from the early days of the 1950s, through to the current Artemis program to return to the Moon, and beyond to the first human mission to Mars.


There have been around 610 people who have been in orbit, and I have only told the story of one of them so far. I’m now looking forward to sharing many of the other amazing stories.

“I am so honoured to have experienced the wonders of space travel myself, and yet it still continues to amaze me just how much space inspires and fascinates people of all ages.”


While the tour will reflect on space stories from the past, Tim’s next focus will be on his own possible future exploration.


The UK Space Agency was approached last year by Axiom Space – a US-based company offering commercial space travel and currently working on the first commercial space station as a replacement for the ISS – to support their ambitions for an all-UK mission.


Axiom’s short-duration mission will be focused on scientific research, technology demonstrations and educational outreach, with potential applicants already invited to pitch research projects for the mission.


I was very surprised when Axiom Space got in touch, but it’s a hugely exciting project – especially as the aim is an all-UK mission,” he said.


“Would I like to go back to the ISS if there was a chance with Axiom? Absolutely – I don’t know of any astronaut who wouldn’t want another mission to space. It’s just an incredible experience.


“I am also delighted that we are looking at getting more British astronauts their wings. There are huge opportunities in the rapidly growing space sector, and it’s important that the UK is properly represented. It’s an amazing opportunity and gives security to the future of human space flight for the UK, to be part of missions going forwards.”


The Axiom Space mission will be the first commercially-sponsored space flight, meaning no cost to the UK taxpayer, and it’s hoped it will open doors to further commercial partnerships and whet the appetite for space sponsorship in the future.


“Space touches all our lives in many different ways, from climate monitoring, communications, and navigation to financial transactions, agriculture and disaster response,” Tim explains.


“Most companies are reliant on some form of space-based technology today and there is huge scope for private investment. It’s new territory, but we hope to make it work.”


Tim had announced his retirement from the European Space Agency (ESA) early last year, but within months talk had started around the Axiom mission. His retirement came about through both personal and professional reasons, as well as wanting to open new career opportunities.


Personally, I have teenage sons approaching GCSE years, and from that point of view, it helps to have a stable family base,” Tim said. “We had some amazing years in Germany and Houston with great opportunities , but the time had come to settle in the UK for a while.


“Working for ESA is an incredible experience but, as with many organisations, there are certain restraints which come with that status. Retiring from ESA’s astronaut corps enabled me to do more advisory work, more charity and outreach work and to engage with the commercial space industry. However, I’m still an ambassador for ESA and maintain close ties with the Agency.”


Tim’s excitement and passion around all things space as well as STEM education (science, technology, engineering and maths) shows no sign of waning, especially given the expansion of commercial space exploration alongside the government-led agencies such as NASA and ESA.


The prospect of an all-UK mission is a hugely exciting opportunity for science and technology companies, and for education and outreach,” he adds.


The impact of my ESA mission in 2015 was reaching and engaging with 2million school children, and with potentially four Brits going to the ISS together we can do even more.


“This would showcase some of the cutting-edge science that the UK is involved in, in areas such as AI, quantum technology, biological engineering, advanced manufacturing and more.


“But more importantly, it’s a new realm of collaboration and cooperation with our international partners in a post-Brexit environment.”


So what does life look like now?


An average week, if there is such a thing, sees me spinning a lot of plates and hoping I don’t drop too many of them!” Tim laughs. “I’ve had a dramatic career change once before when I went from being a test pilot to astronaut training and this has been a similar shift in focus.


“I’m an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, Scouts, STEM Learning and Great Ormond Street Hospital, as causes very close to my heart, and I also work as an ambassador for the UK Space Agency and ESA for certain activities and events.


“In addition to my first live tour, I’ve enjoyed writing several books, for both adults and children and presented a TV documentary on the Secrets of Our Universe.


“Realistically, with a career like this you don’t ever completely retire. I have been to events like the STARMUS Festival a few years ago, where I had the privilege to meet several of the Apollo astronauts – from Charlie Duke to Buzz Aldrin. They are still out there promoting science, space and exploration and I hope I’ll do the same.


“Travelling to space gives you a unique perspective and I still enjoy sharing it.”


These are momentous times for the space industry. While a moonwalk is on the cards for the Artemis 3 crew in 2026, and work is ongoing towards a crewed mission to Mars, some of the most exciting work will have impacts much closer to home in the coming years.


We have occupied the ISS for over 20 years now – and it is essentially a giant science lab,” Tim explains about the research taking place in orbit. “There are components in modern mobile phones which were first tested on the ISS.


“But we’re getting more specialist in the science taking place there now. There is more targeted pharmaceutical research as companies realise the potential available to them. For example, growing protein crystals in space for motor neurone and Parkinson’s diseases could lead to much better treatments for these conditions.


“We’re at the stage where space can become a manufacturing hub for all sorts of things, which can then be brought back down to earth.


“There are things you can build in space which can’t be built on earth, because of the pressures of gravity, and with costs coming down we can also think about large scale manufacturing in space.


“There are attempts to grow human tissue and organs such as a heart on Earth, using bio ink and 3D printers. The problem is that small structures collapse due to gravity and need some sort of scaffolding. It’s not very effective. But in space, you can 3D print human organs more easily, because there is no gravity causing them to collapse in on themselves.  


“It sounds like the wildest science fiction, but it really is science fact and it’s where we are at right now. Five to 10 years and we could be printing full-size human organs in space that could be a feasible transplant option for patients. And that’s when space research starts to mean something very real for people on Earth.


“The potential is only just now being unlocked – and with the shift from purely government-funded research to commercially-funded opportunities, there is greater competition to achieve results.


“Of course, there is the caveat question: Should we send lots of rockets up into space? When we think about the debris from launches and space pollution. But many space companies, some of whom I am working with, are also out there focusing on that clean-up effort, the removal of space debris and creating cleaner, more efficient rocket fuel.”


While all these prospects for the future of space travel are without doubt exciting, what most drives Tim’s enthusiasm is the power of inspiration.


Some of the scientists and engineers coming through now were teenagers inspired by his Principia mission – which has created a huge legacy for the British space industry.


It’s easy to be inspired by space,” he said. “You go to a conference, meet companies doing incredible things. I can’t help but be inspired still by the potential future opportunities.


“The legacy I’m most proud of from my mission is without doubt the inspiration for future generations. When I go to schools and colleges, it’s amazing to see older students saying ‘I remember watching you launch and you inspired me to go off and follow these subjects’.


“It’s a huge privilege to have a platform that allows you to inspire people.


“So many people are inspired by space. We are all mesmerized by the universe – that place where you can wonder and you can dream.”


For more information and to purchase tickets go to www.fane.co.uk/tim-peake


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