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Astronaut Tim Peake makes history with Britain's first spacewalk

By Jamie McKinnell

The first British astronaut to walk in space said it was "a privilege" to wear the Union flag on his arm as he left the International Space Station on a maintenance operation.

Major Tim Peake (43), from Chichester, West Sussex, is on a six-month mission with the European Space Agency and yesterday embarked on his first extra-vehicular activity (EVA) - or spacewalk - making history in the process.

The venture, which began just before 1pm, enabled Major Peake and his Nasa colleague Colonel Tim Kopra (52) to repair a broken voltage regulator box that failed in November.

As he left the space station, sporting the Union flag on his shoulder, his colleague Commander Scott Kelly took a moment to point out the significance of the moment.

Mr Kelly said: "The Union Jack has explored all over the world, now it's exploring space."

Major Peake replied: "It's great to be wearing it. A privilege, a proud moment."

The historic moment was broadcast to millions back on Earth via a live stream on the Nasa website. In Hampshire Major Peake's parents Nigel and Angela Peake beamed with pride as they watched their son's progress from their living room.

Mr Peake said: "It's amazing, the photographs from space are incredible. For us, we have immense pride, but also immense gratitude to all the people who are supporting Tim and the other astronauts."

Rebecca Peake, Major Peake's wife, left a short message for her husband as he exited the ISS.

Using a screen grab from his helmet camera, she wrote on Twitter: "@astro_timpeake thank you for taking our boys with you into the vacuum of space".

The astronaut also received messages from Prime Minister David Cameron, who earlier posted: "Good luck to @astro_timpeake on today's #spacewalk. The country will be watching you make history #ScienceIsGREAT"

Celebrity well-wishers included Sir Paul McCartney, who added: "We're all watching, no pressure! Wishing you a happy stroll outdoors in the universe."

Guided by ground staff in Houston, the pair successfully replaced the broken power box with a spare unit. The spacewalk, which had been set to last six-and-a-half hours, was ended around four hours and 10 minutes in as a precaution, due to a small amount of water in his colleague's helmet.

NASA said the termination was a precaution.

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