Category Archives: Tim Peake

Last UK Appearance for Tim Peake prior to launch for ISS

Credit: ESA
Tim Peake, first British Astronaut to go to the ISS. Credit: ESA

On 6 November, ESA’s first British astronaut, Tim Peake, will be paying his last visit to the UK before his launch to the International Space Station. He will take part in a news conference at the Science Museum London to discuss his upcoming mission.

Together with Jo Johnson, UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations, and David Parker, CEO of the UK Space Agency, Tim will talk with journalists about his training, and the science and education objectives of his mission. While in space, Tim will perform more than 30 experiments for ESA and its Member States and take part in numerous others from ESA’s international partners.

Tim’s mission is ESA’s eighth long-duration mission to the Space Station. It will start aboard a Soyuz spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 15 December. Together with NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, Tim will embark on a six-month stay in space.

Soyua craft docked at ISS.  Credit: NASA
Soyua craft docked at ISS. Credit: NASA

The mission is named Principia, after Isaac Newton’s ground-breakingNaturalis Principia Mathematica, which describes the principal laws of motion and gravity.

ESA and the UK Space Agency are together developing many exciting educational activities aimed at sparking the interest of young children in science and space, including Rocket Science, AstroPi, Zero Robotics, Mission-X Train like an Astronaut, and amateur radio contacts in space.

The Online Home of Principia Mission

It’s now just a few weeks until the first UK astronaut to go to the ISS sets off on their historic journey. Now you can get involved and follow all the progress the website dedicated to this mission here http://www.principia.org.uk.

UK astronaut Tim Peake has a background in the army air corps, a helicopter test pilot with a degree in flight dynamics and evaluation, and speaks in this clip below

The mission is called Principia to celebrate Isaac Newton’s ground-breaking text on physics,Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), which described the principal laws of motion and gravity on which all space travel depends.

See Tim carrying out ESA’s winter survival training

Tim will fly to the ISS as a member of the Expedition 46/47 crew.  He will be launched on a Soyuz from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 15 December 2015 alongside NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.  They will join the international crew already on the ISS, briefly bringing the number to nine, and then reverting to the more usual complement of six, before returning in May 2016.

Some of the kit preceding Tim’s arrival was destroyed in Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket disaster, and so the back-up kit had to be sent on the Soyuz flight earlier this month. Tim will be conducting experiments on board the ISS, creating a series of films to be used in classrooms around the UK to teach students fundamentals of physics and chemistry, in addition to showcasing aspects of the UK space industry, currently employing over 30,000 people and worth over £11 billion per year to the UK economy.

In this video Tim experiences 8G in centrifuge tests

The mission could engage thousands of students in the UK, and inspire them to view careers in science as dynamic and exciting; something the UK badly needs with shortages of graduates in STEM subjects, reported to reach a shortfall of 100,000 in coming years.

Tim Peake Phones Into Conference

British Astronaut Tim Peake, the first British Astronaut to lice and work on the International Space Station, phoned into the Space Conference UK 2015. Tim had to make the call during his quarantine while he is on standby for the mission prior to his in case he would need to fill-in at the last moment for one of his colleagues. Tim’s mission is scheduled for the end of November.

Tim has done incredible work with outreach programs for young people, which have included a broad range; from a competition to design the mission patch for him, to the Great British Space Dinner Challenge to plan a meal for him to eat in space with the winners working with Heston Blumenthal to develop the meal. During Tuesday’s call, Tim announced the winning schools for the competition to design experiments for him to carry out using the Raspberry Pi computer that he will have onboard the ISS. The winning schools were from Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, Norfolk and London.

Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education at the UK Space Agency, said: “We’re incredibly impressed with the exciting and innovative Astro Pi proposals we’ve received and look forward to seeing them in action aboard the International Space Station.”

“Not only will these students be learning incredibly useful coding skills, but will get the chance to translate those skills into real experiments that will take place in the unique environment of space.”

In addition to these announcements, Tim talked further about his aspirations for his mission, and contribution to developing the space sector in the UK.

Tim will be flying to the ISS on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the most reliable method to date. The Soyuz craft were developed in the 60’s under the Soviet space program, and it’s a fascinating testament to their creators that they have this record and are still the best way to get to ISS, but also a sign of the failure of any other systems to be developed, and just how difficult getting into space actually is.

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Soyuz spacecraft

Orbital module (A)

1 docking mechanism, 2 Kurs antenna, 4 Kurs antenna, 3 television transmission antenna, 5 camera, 6 hatch

Descent module (B)

7 parachute compartment, 8 periscope, 9 porthole, 11 heat shield

Service module (C)

10 and 18 attitude control engines, 21 oxygen tank,12 Earth sensors, 13 Sun sensor, 14 solar panel attachment point, 16 Kurs antenna, 15 thermal sensor, 17 main propulsion, 20 fuel tanks, 19 communication antenna

Tim Peake Passes Final Soyuz Exam

British astronaut Tim Peake has passed his final Soyuz exam.

It means he is now qualified to fly in the Russian vehicle when it launches him to the International Space Station for a six-month stay in November.

It also means he can be on standby for the next crew launch at the end of May – just in case someone has to drop out.

“Major Tim”, a former army helicopter pilot, will be the first UK-born, European Space Agency astronaut to live aboard the ISS.

He will be a flight engineer as part of Expeditions 46 and 47, serving his six months alongside American astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, with whom he passed the Soyuz exam.

The test involved a six-hour session in a simulator at the Star City cosmonaut training complex near Moscow.

“This exam is the culmination of many months of training on the Soyuz spacecraft, which is our means of transport to and from the International Space Station,” he told BBC News.

“Although it was a fairly long and gruelling test, it was also a very interesting and enjoyable experience.

“We conducted all phases of flight: launch, rendezvous, docking, undocking, re-entry and landing – during which time our examiners kept us busy with several emergency situations. Unfortunately, though, we can’t now relax – we have to do it all again in six months when we will be the prime crew for launch!”

The Esa astronaut’s mission to the ISS will be known as Principia, in honour of Sir Isaac Newton.

He will arrive at the station a couple of months after English soprano Sarah Brightman.

The multi-platinum-and-gold recording artist is reported to have paid more than $50m for a 10-day “holiday” on the orbiting platform.

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Tim Peake will launch with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and US astronaut Tim Kopra
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Going to the ISS involves spending many hours in the Soyuz simulator to understand its systems
Tim Peake, first British ESA Astronaut

Tim Peake, first British ESA Astronaut

Tim Peake says he is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to go to the International Space Station (ISS).

The UK astronaut told BBC News it was a “huge privilege” and the culmination of everything he had worked for during his aviation career.

A former major and helicopter pilot in the British Army Air Corps, Tim Peake will join Expedition 46 to the ISS, launching in November or December 2015.

Tasks once in orbit will include helping to maintain the 27,000km/h platform and carrying out science experiments in Esa’s Columbus laboratory module, which is attached to the front of the 400-tonne complex.

It is understood there is a strong chance he will also get to perform a spacewalk.

“I am delighted to have been assigned to a long-duration mission to the International Space Station,” he told me.

“On a personal level, this feels like the high point of an incredibly rewarding career in aviation.”

“It is a huge privilege to be able to fly to space. I look forward to the challenges ahead and I shall be doing my utmost to maximise this opportunity for European science, industry and education to benefit from this mission.”

Forty-one-year-old Mr Peake hails from Chichester, and is so far the only Briton ever to be accepted into the European Astronaut Corps.

In some senses, he will become the “first official British astronaut”, because all previous UK-born individuals who have gone into orbit have done so either through the US space agency (Nasa) as American citizens or on independent ventures organised with the assistance of the Russian space agency.

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Tim Peake getting some advice from Michael Foale – the most experienced “UK spaceman”

As an Esa astronaut, “Major Tim” will be flying under the union flag on a UK-government-sponsored programme.

Major Tim’s assignment is made as British space activity is experiencing a big renaissance.

The space industry in the UK is growing fast, employing tens of thousands of workers and contributing some £9bn in value to the national economy.

The government has also raised substantially its subscription to Esa, and the agency has responded by opening its first technical base in the country.

Ecsat (European Centre for Space Applications and Telecoms) is sited on the Harwell science campus in Oxfordshire.

Traditionally, British governments have steadfastly refused to get involved in human spaceflight, and even the current administration puts only a minimal amount of money into this specific Esa programme.


But Dr Thomas Reiter, the director of human spaceflight at Esa, said he hoped the benefits that would accrue to Britain through Major Tim’s flight might encourage deeper participation in the future.


Tim told BBC News: “I am indeed hoping… that the returns in terms of science, technology, applications and the outreach aspect – that this will all help the decision at the next ministerial council, and the follow-ons, to hopefully increase the UK’s participation in human spaceflight in the ISS exploitation programme, and of course in the perspective of exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.”

There is sure to be huge interest in Major Tim’s adventure.

The recently returned ISS commander, Canadian Chris Hadfield, attracted a big following for his tweets, videos and songs from the platform. His rendition of David Bowie’s A Space Oddity has become a YouTube hit.

Major Tim will be endeavouring to achieve something of the same impact.

“I do strum the guitar badly,” he admits, but as for singing, the Briton says he is not in the same class as Chris Hadfield. “Under Pressure”, a 1981 release with Freddie Mercury and Queen, is Major Tim’s favourite Bowie number. “Quite apt, I suppose!”

Scientists are already working on ideas for experiments that the UK spaceman could do on the ISS.

Britain recently joined Esa’s European Life and Physical Sciences in Space (Elips) programme, which organises much of the research conducted on the orbiting platform.

Studying systems and processes in its microgravity environment gives researchers a unique perspective. In an Earth laboratory, gravity pulls hard on everything; but if the notions of “up” and “down” can be removed – as is the case on the freefalling station – then some unusual things start to happen.

Gases and liquids that are heated do not rise and sink as they would normally, and suspended particles do not settle out into neat layers of different sizes.

By removing the “mask” of gravity, it then becomes possible to study the effects of other forces more easily.

Philip Carvil, from the UK Space Biomedical Association, said: “During his mission, Tim will likely be performing a host of experiments that can range from human physiology to material science.

“With around 700 experiments performed on the ISS thus far, the opportunity for research development continually inspires hundreds of institutions around the world to create experiments to better understand the Universe around us and improve the quality of life on Earth.

“At this very moment, several groups are already testing their projects on the ground and/or simulated microgravity for integration in future missions.”

Helen Sharman was the first Briton to go into space in 1991 on Project Juno, a cooperative project between a number of UK companies and the Soviet government. She spent a week at the Mir space station.

The most experienced British-born astronaut is Nasa’s Michael Foale. He has accumulated 374 days in orbit, completing long-duration missions to both the ISS and Mir.

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Tim Peake will be the first “official UK astronaut” to go into orbit
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He was selected by Esa with five other individuals in the class of 2009
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His background is in the forces. He still flies with the Territorial Army
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Training has involved learning Russian and using Russian equipment found on the ISS
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He has also had to become proficient in the robotic systems used on the station
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Major Tim has completed survival training, living underground for a period of days
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Last year, he also lived under water as preparation for a mission to an asteroid
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A key part of the training has been learning the flight controls of a Soyuz capsule
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Most UK-born astronauts have flown under the Star and Stripes. Major Tim will fly the Union Flag.

 Text and photos courtesy of BBC and ESA.