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Flat-pack assembly a surprisingly useful skill in space says Tim Peake

Published 14/04/2016

Tim Peake made the comments as part of a live video call with teachers from the UK, Norway and Poland
Tim Peake made the comments as part of a live video call with teachers from the UK, Norway and Poland

Astronaut Tim Peake has said that being able to assemble an Ikea wardrobe is one of the skills which has helped him most in space.

Speaking on board the International Space Station (ISS), the British astronaut said that being able to build flat-pack furniture was an unexpected skill that has proved most useful in space - claiming the work involved is similar to what he does on his mission.

Major Peake, 44, a father of two from Chichester, West Sussex, said: "The ability to put together an Ikea wardrobe is probably one of the unexpected skills.

"The ability to be able to operate with tools and equipment, to read procedures efficiently and effectively - that's our day-to-day operation and that's something we have to be good at."

Major Peake made the comments as part of a live video call with teachers from the UK, Norway and Poland.

His response was to a question asked by Tom Holloway, a science teacher at Hillcroft Primary School, Caterham, Surrey, about which skills had been surprisingly useful in space.

Major Peake added: "There's not much in the space business that is unexpected, and I guess that's a good thing."

The European Space Agency astronaut is also conducting a series of experiments on himself to help scientists understand the impact of space flight on the human body, to help in future missions to Mars.

Major Peake also spoke of his space training - recalling a European Space Agency trip to Sardinia, Italy, where he camped out in a cave for seven nights, and Nasa's 12-day underwater training in Florida.

He said they provided wonderful environments for psychological profiling and problem solving.

The astronaut is participating in the London Marathon on April 24. He will run 42 km (26.2 miles) in space and said his biggest challenge is staying on the treadmill, attached by an uncomfortable harness.

Major Peake ran the London Marathon in 1999, finishing in 3 hours 18 minutes and 50 seconds, and aims to complete this year's race in under four hours.

During the call, the astronaut also spoke of the first time space influenced him.

He said: "(It was) as a very young boy when I used to love looking up at the stars, and I always had questions to my parents about where we are, what is the universe made of? What are the planets in the solar system?

"I still ask those big questions about our place in the universe, and how science can help to answer those questions."

In past phone calls he has had some mishaps. On Christmas Eve last year, he dialled a wrong number, asking a stranger: "Is this planet Earth?"

He also had to leave a message for his parents, who missed his call to wish them a Merry Christmas.

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