A Bristol PhD student has made it to the final of a BBC television programme to select a potential astronaut but lost out at the final stage. The programme, called Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? was shown on BBC Two on Sunday 1 October.

“It has been a life-changing experience in so many ways”


Tim Gregory was one of the final three contestants out of 12 selected from thousands of applications.  The 23-year-old is studying cosmochemistry at Bristol. He also gives regular science talks at local Bristol schools.

Previous episodes have followed the high-flyers as their minds and bodies were tested to the absolute limit, including being tasked with hovering a helicopter, beep tests, mental acuteness assessments, claustrophobia testing, taking their own blood and psychological scrutiny.

Weightless training

The three finalists went to the Shuttle Landing Facility on Florida’s Space Coast to experience weightlessness at 30,000 feet as well as diving at the Aquarius underwater facility, used by NASA for training astronauts.

The winner, Dr Suzie Imber, a space scientist from the University of Leicester, gets the backing of former Commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, to join the European Space Agency (ESA).

“I have enjoyed every second of the astronaut selection process with the BBC, it has been a life-changing experience in so many ways. The tests were fun, scary, exciting and difficult all at the same time. I never imagined I’d make it this far and have learned a huge amount about myself and about what it really takes to be an astronaut,” said Gregory.

There’s a trailer for the show here

Nick Flaherty