Astonaut Tim Peake made an attempt to phone his family home from space - but was met by an answerphone because his parents were out.
Nigel and Angela Peake, who live in Westbourne, returned home to find a voicemail left by their son from the International Space Station.
Describing the missed call from space, Nigel Peake told ITV News: “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.”
But he revealed that Major Peake 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.”
Major Peake blasted off last Tuesday, and today he helped two of his fellow crewmen on the ISS carry out a spacewalk.
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.
Former Chichester High School for Boys pupil Major Peake is the first Briton aboard the space station, and the first fully British professional astronaut employed by a space agency.
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