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Phone home: Tim Peake fails to make contact from extraterrestrial mission

Published 21/12/2015

Tim Peake may get a chance to try out his space legs during the six-month stay on the space station
Tim Peake may get a chance to try out his space legs during the six-month stay on the space station

British astronaut Tim Peake has helped two of his fellow crewmen carry out a spacewalk - but failed in an attempt to phone his parents from the International Space Station (ISS).

He tried making the call but missed his mother and father because they were out.

Nigel and Angela Peake arrived home to find a voicemail left by their son.

Speaking to ITV News, they also revealed that a cardboard cut-out of Major Peake - dubbed "Flat Tim" - will take his place at the Christmas table later this week.

The primary purpose of the spacewalk by American Nasa astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly was to free a jammed robotic trolley.

The Mobile Transporter, which carries a robot arm along a rail attached to the truss, the station's central "backbone", became stuck on Wednesday.

During the EVA (extra-vehicular activity), Major Peake was responsible for getting his fellow astronauts in and out of their space suits and safely through the airlock.

He also monitored the spacewalk from inside the ISS and kept in touch with mission control.

The Mobile Transporter had to be moved and latched in the right position to clear a path for an unmanned Russian Progress supply craft, due to dock in two days.

Nasa broadcast live footage of the operation, showing dramatic views of the two astronauts at work with the Earth turning slowly in the background.

Describing the missed call from space, Nigel Peake, from Westbourne, near Chichester, said: "It was quite surreal. We'd popped out for about an hour to see our daughter who lives nearby, came home to an answerphone message, 'hello, this is your son from the International Space Station'. We're out when he calls! That message is going to stay there in perpetuity, I can assure you."

He revealed that Tim would make an appearance of sorts at this year's family Christmas dinner.

"He will be with us around the Christmas festive table as a giant cardboard cut-out which the people in the village very kindly made for the celebration party they had on launch day," said Nigel Peake. "We've now borrowed him so he's standing in the corner of the room so he'll be here with us when we carve the turkey."

Major Peake's mother Angela said: "We've got used to calling him Flat Tim, so Flat Tim will be having dinner with us on Christmas Day."

Mr Peake said Major Peake's two sons, Thomas, six, and Oliver, four, were both "fine", adding: " They've become used to the idea that Daddy's up on the space station so they'll be following his adventures along with the rest of us."

Former Army Air Corps officer and helicopter test pilot Major Peake, 43, has trained to undertake EVAs and may get a chance to exercise his space legs himself during his six-month mission.

He is the first Briton aboard the space station, and the first fully British professional astronaut employed by a space agency.

Previous "Brits in space" have either had US or dual citizenship or been on privately funded or sponsored trips.

Major Peake was recruited and trained by the European Space Agency (Esa). The decision to send him into space came after the UK Government started to contribute funds to Esa's ISS operations in 2012.

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