UK astronaut swaps family Xmas for space

  • 15/12/2015
Astronaut Timothy Peake (AAP)
Astronaut Timothy Peake (AAP)

Astronaut Timothy Peake, set to become the first Briton to travel to the International Space Station (ISS), said on the eve of his departure that he would look down on Earth at Christmas time and think of his family.

The former army major – a European Space Agency flight engineer – is blasting off from Baikonur in Kazakstan on Tuesday (local time) with two American and Russian colleagues for a 171-day mission at the orbiting research outpost.

"We've been so busy focusing on this mission, I forgot that Christmas is just a week away," Peake told reporters at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur on Monday.

"We'll be enjoying the fantastic view of planet Earth and our thoughts will be with everyone on Earth enjoying Christmas and with our friends and family."

The 43-year-old added that he would be able to call his relatives from space to wish them a merry Christmas.

"I also heard that a Christmas pudding went up on orbital four, so we will have treats as well," Peake said to laughter in the press room.

The experienced air pilot will become only the eighth Briton to enter the cosmos after Tuesday's rocket launch, which is scheduled for about 11am.

He has vowed to take part in the London marathon from space on April 24, harnessed to a running machine on the ISS some 400 kilometres above Earth.