British astronaut Tim Peake has detailed his journey back to Earth after six months on the International Space Station (ISS) and admitted that he would return to space "in a heartbeat" if given the opportunity.
Speaking at his first press conference since leaving the station and landing in Kazakhstan on Saturday, Peake said he was feeling "fantastic".
He described the series of events during his return flight in a tiny Soyuz capsule, including the sensation of "falling back to Earth" as the growing G-force pushed him back in his seat
He also spoke of his "dream" of going to the Moon, his hope that the UK continues to fund manned space missions and his relief at using a gravity-assisted Earth toilet at last.
The 44-year-old father-of-two returned to Earth from a six-month European Space Agency mission on the ISS with American Nasa astronaut Colonel Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.
All three men are now undergoing an intense programme of rehabilitation and tests to help them re-adjust to Earth gravity and to allow scientists to study how their bodies have withstood the strain of 186 days in space.
Their ‘descent module’ was the only part of the three-section Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft to complete the journey, parachuted down on to a remote spot on the vast Kazakhstan steppe.
"In my previous military career I've had the pleasure of flying some Russian military helicopters, so I'm very familiar with Russian engineering and Russian technology and it's robust,” Peake said.
“It works very well, but it's very solid and when a solid spacecraft is designed to break into three parts, it doesn't do it quietly. It does it with a number of pyrotechnic bolts that all go off one after the other, sounding like a very heavy machine gun.
"The spacecraft really does blow itself apart, which is really quite exciting. These pyrotechnic bolts are only a few millimetres of metal away from your ear when they go off."
During separation, the crew were seated in the descent module, which measures little more than 6ft (1.8m) across.
The two other sections of the Soyuz, the spherical 'orbital module' which provides extra living accommodation in orbit, and the ‘service module’ housing propulsion and control systems are discarded and allowed to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.
"It's great being sat next to the window because you're able to look out. I started seeing sparks and flames coming off because all the multi-layer insulation around the spacecraft is burning away. Again, it was very exciting to see that," he said.
E&T interviewed Tim Peake before his journey last year, in an exclusive meeting.