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Swedish astronaut back in Stockholm

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10:11 CET+01:00
Christer Fuglesang, the first Swedish astronaut, has returned to a hero's welcome in his homeland.

Around a hundred fans, deputy prime minister Maud Olofsson and a big media presence welcomed the Houston-based astronaut and his wife Lisa off his plane at Arlanda on Thursday morning, in his first visit to Sweden since his return from the International Space Station on 22nd December.

The loudspeakers at Arlanda blasted out a recording of David Bowie's 'Life on Mars', while the astronaut's welcoming committee greeted him with cheers and applause.

Pupils from Thunman School in Knivsta, near Stockholm, waved Swedish flags and newspaper billboards with the text 'Välkommen hem Christer! Äntligen tillbaka på svensk jord.' (Welcome Home Christer! Finally back on Swedish soil). Pupils from the same school had spoken to Fuglesang directly while he was on the space station.

Fuglesang thanked the Swedish people for their interest in his adventure.

"Happiness shared is happiness doubled. If you can share it with nine million others then that's a lot of happiness," the astronaut said.

In a welcome speech Maud Olofsson, the minister responsible for space, emphasised Fuglesang's goal-oriented approach and the fact that he never gave up, despite waiting many years for his space trip.

"If you want something important, you must not give up," she said.

Speaking to press, Fuglesang says he remembers his time in space as two weeks filled with technology. But he said he hoped to go into space again.

"I hope there will be another, but it looks like there will be a wait of a couple of years. There aren't that many of us ESA (European Space Agency) astronauts, but then there aren't that many places for Europeans. We will have to wait and see, but I think I've got a fair chance," he said.

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