Britain’s first official European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut hopes the legacy of his mission will be to inspire a new generation to enter a career linked to space exploration.
Tim Peake, from Westbourne near Emsworth, said there was nothing to stop British children of today becoming the first people to set foot on Mars.
In a little over five weeks, 43-year-old Tim will embark on a six-month stint on the International Space Station (ISS), leaving Earth on a Russian Soyuz rocket.
At his final pre-flight press conference at the Science Museum in London, the former military test pilot spoke highly of his rigorous training, and insisted he was only nervous about forgetting something.
Mr Peake said: ‘On launch day, of course there’s going to be some apprehension.’
‘You’re sat on top of 300 tons of fuel and you’re basically just going to be focused on the mission and what’s to come.
‘It’s important to say goodbye to friends and family and just draw a line and really focus on the mission ahead.’
A key aspect of the mission’s link to the UK will be to engage with every school in the country and offer lessons about Mr Peake’s work.
He will not only take part in a series of experiments – some calling on him to become a guinea pig to research asthma, the immune system and the ageing process – but engage with the public through social media. And his advice to aspiring astronauts is simple: ‘You have to just take every step as it comes, and you have to do what you’re passionate about and what you want to do.’