Tim Peake has outlined his ambition to become the first British person to walk on the moon amid hopes of securing his second mission into space.
The first UK astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS) has revealed he is “in the frame” to represent the nation on the lunar surface.
Major Peake has said an American pair will likely be the first to revisit the Moon in plans to return to the satellite by 2024.
But the astronaut is confident that European Space Agency explorers will soon follow, and he could be among those flying to the heavenly body as part of the Artemis project.
The former army major will be in his fifties if he manages to touch down on the Moon in the coming years, which would make him the oldest person ever to stroll on the lunar surface.
After coming back to Earth in 2016 after his launch in 2015, the astronaut is hoping for a return journey into space.
“My name is still in the frame and I hope to have a second mission,” he told the Headliners podcast.
He added: "We [Europeans] are very much part of the return to the moon programme.
"The European Space Agency built the service module which is going to take the Orion spacecraft back to the moon.
"We won't, probably, have Europeans in the first return to the moon, that's likely to be two Americans, a male and a female.
"But subsequently, yes. Europeans, at some point, will be part of those missions. So who knows.”
On the prospect of representing the UK on the Moon, the pioneering former helicopter pilot added: "We'll have to wait and see."
Major Peake ran the London Marathon on a treadmill in space, and famously dined on a bacon sandwich with a cup of tea during his first meal on board the ISS.
If he touches down on the Moon in future missions, he will become the oldest lunar visitor, surpassing the record of American Alan Shepard who walked the surface at 47 year old.
The Sandhurst graduate could also become the first astronaut from outside the US to enjoy a moonwalk. The 12 men beginning with Neil Armstrong who have walked on its surface have all hailed from across the Atlantic.
No human footprints have been left on the satellite’s grey dust since 1972, but Major Peake hopes that the American monopoly on Moon visits and the hiatus on manned visits to the surface will be ended in the coming years.
He has said that the multi-national element of space exploration is central to its importance.
"It's possibly one of the greatest achievements of the International Space Station - more so than the scientific research - is this international collaboration that has managed to bond together for over 20 years now.
"The space community almost transcends political differences.
"The people who were teaching me and the people I was living and working with... our lives depend on each other.
"We can't allow for political differences to get in the way."