British astronaut Major Tim Peake spent six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He gained fame on social media for his science communication, astrophotography skills, and all round niceness.
He did not, however, go to the Moon. The last person who stepped foot on our pale guardian was Eugene Cernan in 1972. Both of these facts seemed to escape a TV presenter in the UK, who asked Peake if he’d taken a sample back from the lunar surface during his time away from Earth.
The exchange took place on ITV’s This Morning breakfast show, between the calm and collected spaceman and one Amanda Holden:
Holden: “I don’t know whether you would be allowed to answer it really, as it might be a naughty thing. When you went to the Moon did you take a piece of the Moon and bring it back home with you?”
Peake: “So I wasn’t on the moon, I was on the space station.”
Holden: “So you never got off, there was nothing floating about that you could steal?”
Peake: “No but there was a brilliant question from a young lad who said ‘did you bring back any souvenirs from the Space Station?' I thought what a wonderful idea if we go there and bring something back.”
The Moon is 961 times further away from the Earth’s surface than the ISS. Unless there’s a secret Narnia-like gateway to the Moon up there, then there’s obviously no way the Major could have grabbed a lunar sample.
We’d love to share the original clip of said exchange happening, but the version of the interview uploaded to YouTube by the TV channel in question removed said incident. Fortunately, people on the Internet were more than happy to record this glorious moment and tell the world of this rather gigglesome blunder.
Despite this astronomical mistake, credit must be given to the interviewee, who handled what must have been peak embarrassment with characteristic grace.
It could have been worse. Back in 2014, the UK’s Channel 4 ran a program called Live From Space, which gave people on Twitter the chance to have a question answered by an ISS crewmember – a once in a lifetime opportunity for most. Here are just some of the queries:
“Do you miss pizza?"
“How do you do an anti-gravity poo?”
“What happens if someone farts on the ISS?”
“What if you’re on your space walk and you lose your space keys?”
“Can you see me waving from my house?”
“What does it feel like to do a poo in space?”
“How does the window cleaner get up there?”
“Where does all the poo go? Please tell me there’s a pooship.”
Asking the big questions, clearly.