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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: Test Pilot Becomes Astronaut

PUBLIC SERVICE | TRAINING

The European Space Agency has selected AgustaWestland Senior Test Pilot Tim Peake to be an astronaut. Peake will be the first-ever British astronaut to join the European Astronaut Corps (EAC). He is one of four successful candidates chosen for the EAC, which currently has eight astronauts. In his new position, Peake will be trained to fly to the International Space Station. He and his three EAC teammates were chosen from 8,413 applications.

In an official ESA release, Peake said he is "delighted" to be selected for the European Astronaut Corps. "I think that the space industry is going to play an increasingly important role in overcoming many of the challenges that humankind faces, and to be a part of ESA’s team working towards that goal is a great privilege," he added.

Peake joined the U.K. Army Air Corps in August 1992. After gaining his wings in June 1994, Peake was posted to Germany as a Gazelle pilot. Subsequently, he became a qualified helicopter instructor and was "exchange posted" to the U.S. Army, where he flew Apache helicopters. He used that skill on returning home to train British Army Apache AH Mk.1 pilots. After training as a rotary-wing test pilot, Peake retired from the U.K. military following 17 years of service. He then joined AgustaWestland, test flying Apache and Lynx helicopters.

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