Today Tim Peake made history as he became the first “official” British astronaut to walk in space.
Peake stepped outside the International Space Station’s (ISS) Quest airlock at 1pm GMT with Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra, and the pair are scheduled to spend just over six hours outside the station.
The pair’s primary goal on the EVA – the technical term for a spacewalk meaning ExtraVehicular Activity – is to replace a faulty electrical box on the exterior of the ISS, which regulates the power from the solar panels.
The majority of people on Earth probably think it takes balls of steel to launch into space in the first place, never mind engage in an EVA. But Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, says fear will be the last thing on Peake’s mind today.
“You’re not afraid because you got over the fear part years in advance of doing a spacewalk,” Hadfield explains. “He’ll be focused on all the things that he’s trained for all those years so that he can execute it properly.
“Tim’s been a test pilot for years, and he’s the only British one that’s has ever been selected to be an astronaut as well. That didn’t happen accidentally.
“You don’t just come into this with your fingers crossed and a picture of your wife stuck on the dashboard,” he continues. “We take spacewalks immensely seriously and prepare for them with an excruciating amount of training.”
“So what goes through an astronaut’s mind prior to a spacewalk is the technical side, not the fear. You do recognise that this is one of those things that can kill people, but ask: ‘How am I not going to die today?’
Hadfield adds: “He’ll be thinking about the choreography of it, each complexity. It’s the habit patterns that keep you alive; doing things methodically and in the correct order.
“He’ll also be reminding himself that this is probably going to be a once in a lifetime experience; a way to see the world that is almost unprecedented in the human experience,” he concludes.
“Once he’s done that, it becomes joyful, it just becomes fun.”
Loaded reporter Robert McCallum has written for many leading culture magazines and websites about music, sport, science, politics, fashion and arts. Follow Robert at @therobmccallum