BRITISH astronaut Tim Peake returned to Earth in dramatic style – just in time for Father’s Day!
One of the first things 44-year-old Tim did was to phone his Scottish-born wife Rebecca, 42, to tell her and sons Thomas and Oliver the landing went safely.
The dad-of-two said he was “looking forward to seeing the family” after his Soyuz space capsule parachuted down in a remote spot in Kazakhstan at 10.15am UK time yesterday.
He described his 78 million-mile four-hour descent through space as “the best ride I’ve ever been on”.
Still dressed in his spacesuit, he said: “It was incredible.
“Truly amazing. A life-changing experience.
“The smell on Earth is really strong. Looking forward to seeing the family.”
He added that he was contemplating treating himself to a “pizza and cold beer”.
His elated father Nigel described the touchdown as “a job well done”, and said he was immensely proud of his son.
Nigel and Tim’s mother, Angela were yesterday waiting for him in Cologne, Germany, for an emotional “welcome home” party with about 50 friends, relatives and colleagues.
Nigel Peake added: “I’m so proud of him and what he has achieved, and very grateful he had the opportunity.”
Travelling with Tim were crewmates American Nasa astronaut Colonel Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.
The Soyuz capsule successfully re-entered the atmosphere at a speed of 17,398mph. Parachutes were deployed on time and the whole process was described as “by the book” by Nasa.
A rescue and recovery team raced to the landing site almost 300 miles south west of the major city of Karaganda.
The space travellers were pulled one-by-one from the Soyuz and placed in comfortable seats.
Tim had his eyes closed and looked exhausted at first but then smiled and gave a thumbs up.
He and his fellow crew members were taken into the care of medical experts and began the lengthy process of readjusting to Earth’s gravity.
They were flown by helicopter to Karaganda for local dignitaries to hold a traditional welcoming ceremony and offer them gifts of bread and salt and a traditional Kazak hat.
Tim was due to travel to the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne for a mission debrief before being re-united with his loving family at about midnight.
The successful landing marks the end of the six-month International Space Station (ISS) mission that earned Tim an honour from the Queen for “extraordinary service beyond our planet”.
Interest in the stars has soared since Tim Peake left Earth