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European Space Agency names first Briton for space station mission

May 20, 2013 at 6:44 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, May 20 (UPI) -- The European Space Agency says a former army helicopter pilot is to be Britain's first official astronaut to go to the International Space Station.

Major Tim Peake, 41, is set for a five-month mission to the ISS in 2015 in a move being called a major boost for Britain's space industry, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

Peake has been awaiting a mission assignment since graduating from training as a European Space Agency astronaut more than two years ago.

Although British citizens have gone into space before, Peake will be considered the country's first official astronaut because the others either secured private funding or acquired U.S. citizenship to go into orbit, the Telegraph said.

Peake will be carried to the ISS as part of a crew mission on a Russian Soyuz rocket and will take part in spacewalks and scientific research while on the orbiting laboratory, the ESA said.

His intensive 14-month training program has included visits to NASA's astronaut base in Houston, the Russian astronaut training center in Star City outside Moscow and the Tsukuba Space Center in Japan.

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