He is the first fully British professional astronaut and launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Tuesday aboard a Soyuz FG rocket, docking at the International Space Station (ISS) at around 5:30pm, accompanied by Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko and American Tim Kopra.
The 43-year-old instantly settled into life in space with some earthly comforts – tea and a bacon sandwich – and described his first hour and 48 minutes aboard the ISS as “busy but incredible”. Answering questions from journalists at the European Astronaut Centre near Cologne, in Germany, Maj Peake said: “It is way better than I imagined. It is actually really hard to describe.
“The whole ride into space on the Soyuz rocket was so powerful.”
Maj Peake, briefly allowing his microphone to float in zero-gravity, said he was surprised how quickly his body adapted to weightlessness.
“The first two hours is pretty rough,” he said. “Every time you turn a corner or move your head, your ears send signals to the brain that do not really match your eyes so you do feel disorientated and dizzy. But I am amazed how quickly my body has adapted.
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“On my second day I woke up feeling ready to go to work and I have had no problems since.
“The most unexpected thing I think was the blackness of space. We always talk about seeing the view of Planet Earth and how beautiful it is and you come to expect that.
“But what people don’t mention that much is when you look in the opposite direction and you see how dark space is. It is just the blackest black and that was a real surprise to me.
“I am in a very privileged position but although I will be missing friends and family on Christmas Day I will at least be able to orbit the Earth 16 times and look down on the planet.
“I will be able to call my family at home. I do of course wish everybody… a happy Christmas and a happy new year.”
Maj Peake said he was “delighted and thrilled” at the support he had received from people around the world. Asked if he was still in love with science, Maj Peake said: “Of course I am still in love with science. Science is what brought me up here and science is what will bring me back home.”
Maj Peake was seen off at the Cosmodrome by wife Rebecca, from Comrie in Perthshire, and his two sons, Oliver, aged four, and Thomas, aged six.