Sorry Tim, but my excitement at space missions has peaked

British astronaut Tim Peake said he will never forget his "exhilarating" first walk in space as he p

British astronaut Tim Peake said he will never forget his "exhilarating" first walk in space as he posted a selfie of his historic feat. PRESS ASSOCIATION - Credit: PA

Thirty years ago this week, the space shuttle Challenger exploded just after its launch, killing all of those on board.

I can remember watching it live on TV, along with other members of my high school year group.

That's what we did back then - we watched space launches, and we wondered at them.

Just as my parents' generation were glued to their TVs for the Moon landings, we were space shuttle fans. I even had a toy shuttle, which went on the back of the ultimate flatbed truck. I practised taking off and landing – and crashing it into cars, walls, dinosaurs and cupboards.

Moon landings and shuttle launches are history, more's the pity.

Instead, we have space station missions. Forgive me, but am I the only one who finds them rather dull?

There has been a bit of a hullabaloo about Tim Peake becoming the first British astronaut to officially join the team in the International Space Station.

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With hushed awe, TV presenters have hosted live link-ups to Mr Peake on the ISS. Schools have had the privilege of taking part which – in fairness – must be educational and memorable.

But when you cut to the chase, it's a story of a bloke who had a long and unusual commute to his new place of work. And there isn't very much more to say. Which is why some of the live link-ups featured toe-curling silence and the interviewers' nightmare of question block.

Yes, the ISS has a good view. But when you've seen Earth from space once, there's not much else to see, except blackness. Having suffered from depression, staring into endless darkness doesn't appeal.

Our exploration of space began by hurling a rhesus monkey up there, followed by a dog, then Yuri Gagarin. Then we put humans on the Moon.

Nearly 50 years on, and we are flinging little spacecraft to the outer reaches of the solar system to send back 'exciting' photos of planets and moons, which are out of focus and splodgy.

And we are sending people to an office on the edge of the stratosphere, to do sciency stuff for six months. It sounds like purgatory to me, but I did hate physics.

Perhaps I've lost my childlike sense of wonder, and have become hard and cynical. But isn't it time we put 'boots on the ground' of another planet, rather than under the desk of the ISS?

• The opinions above are those of Steve Downes. Read more from our columnists every day in the EDP.