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Returned astronaut Tim Peake relishes little things

2 min

Paris (AFP)

Using a normal toilet and appreciating weather -- "any weather whatsoever" -- are some of the small pleasures astronaut Tim Peake has enjoyed most since returning from the International Space Station (ISS), he said Tuesday.

The Briton has had to give up stunning views and the sensation of floating weightlessly in space. He also faces a long road of physical readjustment to gravity's pull.

But there are perks to being back home, he told journalists.

"Gravity is horrible when you come back to Earth, except in a few cases," Peake said on his third day back from the international orbiter.

"Using the loo, gravity is your friend. That's one of the things we do look forward to", he laughed.

Peake spent six months on the ISS, where relieving oneself involves suction hoses to remove waste from the body.

Other things he said he missed were smells, fresh air, and rain.

"It's lovely, it's wonderful, it's familiar, it's everything that I missed when I was in space," the space traveller said at the European Astronaut Centre in the western German city of Cologne.

"The rain, it's something that you don't feel up there," he said in a press conference webcast by the European Space Agency.

"Obviously you don't feel any weather, so any weather down here whatsoever feels unique and it feels very special."

A 44-year-old former helicopter test pilot, Peake was the first British astronaut on the ISS. He returned home on Saturday along with Russia's Yuri Malenchenko and NASA's Tim Kopra.

He said on Tuesday he would go back "in a heartbeat", although "I'd like to put the family first for a while now."

Peake would not be drawn on Thursday's British vote on whether to leave the European Union, but said it was important for Britain to be at the forefront of Europe's future space exploration projects.

"If we're not on board now, we'll miss out on the things that will be happening in the 20s and the things that will be happening in the 30s," he said.

"And at some point we will be too far behind to actually get on board. My point is that we need to be on board right now."

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