Major Tim Peake, on December 15 2015, said:
“Absolutely, I believe in life forms on other planets, but not little green men in our solar system.”
Peake added he hopes expeditions like his will inspire more school children to pursue careers in science and mathematics.
“There is no reason why schoolkids today couldn’t be some of the first people to walk on Mars,” he said.
The 43-year-old army major was selected to join the European Space Agency’s team of ISS astronauts in 2009. He beat more than 8,000 applicants to the job.
During his six-month stint at the space station, Peake will make 2,700 laps of the Earth, traveling at 17,500mph (28,200kph).
“The only fear I have at this stage is forgetting something. In terms of the mission, I don’t have any fears at all,” he said.
While aboard the ISS, Peake said he would miss “fresh air,” and, because alcohol is not permitted on board the ISS, he would enjoy a beer upon his return in May 2016.
The astronaut also discussed his training. In all the simulated launches so far something had gone wrong, he admitted.
“You almost expect something to happen,” he said. “If I manage to get to the space station without a failure, it’ll be a first.”
During his mission, Peake will run a series of scientific experiments including using an electromagnetic device to study new alloys, and growing protein crystals for cancer research purposes.
He set off for the space station on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on December 15. The craft set off at 11:02 GMT and arrived at the ISS at 04:58 GMT.
When asked by a schoolboy how Father Christmas would deliver presents to the crew, Peake replied,
“We spend every minute looking out the window, so I’ll be looking out for any unusual activity over Earth.”
“I don’t think my presents will arrive by reindeer, but by Orbital 4,” he added.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth – RTX1V0U5