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Sweden plans hero's welcome for Fuglesang

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19:30 CET+01:00
The Swedish government plans to give astronaut Christer Fuglesang a hero's welcome when he returns home, according to 'space minister' Maud Olofsson.

"We're in the process of planning here. The government will naturally do something, as well as the Space Board. A lot of us want to celebrate with him," she said on Saturday.

Fuglesang was in a fine mood when he met Swedish journalists at a hotel in Florida's Cocoa Beach on Saturday, following his twelve day trip into space.

He was repeatedly asked to tell reporters which was the best experience, and he replied that the last, unscheduled spacewalk was what made the greatest impression.

"We showed that we could solve problems in real time with improvised tools. I was hanging there way up on the space station and saw Earth gliding past under me," said Fuglesang.

He said that it was impossible to describe his feelings after all the experiences. But he claimed that it had exceeded his expectations - so much so that he had trouble sleeping on the first days because there was so much to take in.

The landing late on Friday night did not seem especially risky, and he laughed as he described the feeling of gravity on his body again.

"When I turned my head it felt as if I had had a few too many drinks and when I woke up today it felt like a hangover."

Fuglesang said that he was very grateful for the European Space Agency's decision to guarantee him another chance to go into space.

"I absolutely want to go up again," he said.

Christer Fuglesang can be assured of a hero's welcome when he returns to Sweden. Minutes after he returned to Earth, prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt congratulated him.

"Welcome home. It has been exciting to follow your journey. I want to congratulate you on a job well done and for being the first Swede in space," said Reinfeldt via his press secretary Roberta Alenius.

"I look forward to meeting Christer Fuglesang," said King Carl Gustaf, through palace information officer Nina Eldh.

Sweden's 'space minister' Maud Olofsson followed the landing on television at home.

"It was very exciting. We drank his health with champagne. It felt very nerve-wracking just before they came in for landing," she told TT.

Maud Olofsson added that she felt enormous pride over the Swedish astronaut's sapce adventure.

"He has performed more spacewalks than planned, he has managed to do everything that was asked of him and he has done it in a fantastic way."

She wants the Swedish government to express the people's admiration for Fuglesang's commitment.

"I believe it's important that he knows that we are proud of him. It's good to be proud of scientists and not just sportsmen," she said.

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