17 July 2019

How much of your life can you leave down to fate?

If you asked me, I would say none of it! However, it is remarkable how for some people, their destiny seems written in the stars. This is particularly true for this week’s podcast guest, British astronaut and record-breaker, Major Tim Peake.

“My father took me to some airshows and I became very passionate about aviation and flying,” he says. “I loved everything to do with flying; I read books on it, built model aircraft and went to the airshows and was very fortunate to able to fly with the army.”

Peake graduated from Sandhurst as an officer in the British Army Air Corps. He flew several military operations and went on to become a test pilot, pushing aircraft to their very limits.

Peake logged more than 3,000 hours’ flying time on more than 30 types of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He achieved a Bachelor of Science degree in flight dynamics and evaluation from the University of Portsmouth later in life, at 34 years old. Something he says shows “you can still achieve your goals later in life”.

Take off

Unbeknownst to Peake, just two years later, The European Space Agency (ESA) announced it was accepting applications for new astronauts in 2008. The requirements for pilots to apply were at least 1,000 hours flying experience or a degree in various disciplines including engineering, IT or mathematics. He had both.

Peake simply happened upon the advert online and knew it was too good an opportunity to miss. He was chosen as one of six successful applicants out of more than 8,000 others. His career to that point had led him to be a perfect candidate for the space programme.

Then began the 14 months of training. This included being stuck in a cave or underwater, with no idea of the time. However, his military background meant that this was nothing particularly new.

In the podcast, he said: “Having been in the military I was very used to being cold, wet and tired on many occasions so I think in those situations the camaraderie is very important.

“You look after each other, everyone is going to struggle at something. So if someone is struggling with something, help them out, because then when you’re struggling with something, they are going to do the same for you.”

This quality is something you’re born with. The supportive gene is an innate quality. Being able to keep calm under pressure and keep your head when the worst could be about to happen.


When you look at Tim Peake’s journey, it would be fair to say that the stars aligned to ensure that when an opportunity came up to become an astronaut he was perfectly equipped. Perhaps it was his destiny!

I wonder if he could have imagined at each point in his journey – his passion for flight, his years in the military, his studying at university – would all equip him to become one of the few who actually are able to fulfil that childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.

Peake speaks of his journey and about what happens when you’re the first Brit to take a spacewalk and your colleague gets into extreme danger, in this week’s Mind Your Own Business podcast. Subscribe and listen on iTunes and Android.


Back to Blog