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commencing countdown NASA astronaut hopes to visit Ireland this summer once Covid-19 cases ease

"We are planning to visit in August to see family we haven't seen in a year and a half."

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The International Space Station. Photo: Nasa/PA

The International Space Station. Photo: Nasa/PA

The International Space Station. Photo: Nasa/PA

Ireland’s only astronaut has said that he plans to return to Ireland soon once Covid cases ease.

Daniel Tani, who hails from Pennsylvania but whose wife and family are from Cork, is Ireland’s only NASA astronaut.

He is now retired but still boasts an impressive career having led the 100th spacewalk on the International Space Station in December 2007.

The astronaut joined Aidan Cooney and Alison O'Reilly on the Q102 breakfast show this morning to speak about his plans to visit Ireland this summer.

The 60-year-old, who is currently living in the US, said: “I spend a lot of time in Cork and West Cork. That’s where we met.

“We are planning to visit in August to see family we haven't seen in a year and a half.

“We look forward to getting back as soon as the borders clear up and makes sure everybody is healthy. We are happy to be vaccinated and we look forward to all of Ireland being vaccinated.”

He also spoke of meeting the legendary Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who died last week from cancer at the age of 90.

Daniel described the famous Moon Lander as “a very wonderful guy” and a true hero.

He told listeners: “I've only had the chance of meeting Mike Collins once a long time and he really was a very wonderful guy.

“All those guys are real heroes but they lived long and very successful lives. [Their deaths are] sort of inevitable and it gives us an opportunity to look back and really appreciate the contributions those guys really made to the space programme.”

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When asked what it was like to go to space, Daniel said: “It is just fantastic, to live and work on the space station, not only are you floating, we call it microgravity, so inside we are floating around which is fantastically fun.

“We have this beautiful view of the earth and we are circling it every 90 minutes - it's just a real incredible place to live and work.”

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