Astronaut Tim Peake tonight received an honorary degree from the University of Portsmouth.
The ceremony at the univesity he graduated from in 2006 followed a day meeing youngsters who have been inspired by his six-month mission to the International Space Station.
The 44-year-old attended the UK Space Agency Schools Conference, hosted by the University of Portsmouth, which gave schoolchildren a chance to present their work to Major Peake as well as other experts from the European Space Agency.
Major Peake, who is also being presented with an honorary degree by the Hampshire university, said: “Encouraging students to engage with my Principia mission was always something that I had hoped to do - and I am thrilled at the range of different things young people have done to follow my mission.”
The conference, which will be followed by a second event at the University of York, is part of a £3 million education initiative following Maj Peake’s mission - the largest such project undertaken for an ESA astronaut which has involved a million young people.
University of Portsmouth vice-chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith said: “It’s a great honour for us to welcome one of our most celebrated alumni back to the university for this prestigious event.
“Tim’s six-month mission on board the International Space Station was an inspiration to schoolchildren everywhere.”
Major Peake studied flight dynamics and evaluation at the University of Portsmouth and graduated in 2006.
He was presented his honorary doctorate of science in a special ceremony attended by about 2,000 people held ahead of his public talk at the Portsmouth Guildhall.
Prof Galbraith said: “It gives me great pleasure to award Tim with a honorary degree. This is the highest honour a university can bestow on a member of the public.”
Maj Peake said: “What a huge honour it is to receive that degree and it is made even more special as I received my first degree from the University of Portsmouth 10 years ago.
“Unfortunately that 10 years isn’t an indication of how youthful I am but indicates that I attained a degree later in life at the grand old age of 34 showing you can still achieve your goals later on in life.” Maj Peake, who graduated from the university in 2006, then gave an inspiring talk to a lucky cluster of people in attendance.
The 44-year-old from Westbourne near Emsworth was in the area for the UK Space Agency Schools Conference
The conference celebrates the work of over a million UK school students inspired by Major Peake’s Principia mission, which saw the flight dynamics and evaluation graduate spend more than six months on board the International Space Station.