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UK spaceman Tim Peake is stepping down permanently from his role as a European astronaut.
He’s going to take up a full-time ambassadorial position for science and space instead – work he’s been doing since 2019.
The former British Army Air Corps helicopter pilot was selected as a European Space Agency (Esa) astronaut in 2009.
He flew to the space station for a six-month tour in 2015/2016.
“Being an Esa astronaut has been the most extraordinary experience,” Tim Peake said.
“I have had the privilege of working with an exceptional team of dedicated individuals during the past 13 years with the agency, which has been incredibly exciting and rewarding.
“By assuming the role of an ambassador for human spaceflight, I shall continue to support Esa and the UK Space Agency, with a focus on educational outreach, and I look forward to the many exciting opportunities ahead.”
In November last year, Esa unveiled UK citizens Rosemary Coogan, John McFall and Meganne Christian as new astronaut candidates.
Coogan is set to begin training in April; McFall is joining a feasibility study to see if he can fly as a disabled astronaut (he’s a former Paralympic “blade runner”); and Christian is a reserve and could join the corps if someone else drops out.
Tim Peake’s selection into the Esa astronaut corps in 2009 was a surprise because the UK was not participating in the agency’s human spaceflight programme at the time. But this policy