Astronaut Tim Peake made history as he became the first British astronaut to go into space and board the international space station. He is not the first British astronaut to go into space, that honour will forever be held by Helen Sharman, who went up in 1981. Whilst on the international space station, Peake will undertake several scientific experiments and run the London marathon. The launch took place from the same place that Yuri Gagarin launched from to become the first human ever in space.
Tim Peake is a former Army Air Corps officer; he applied and beat over 8,000 applicants for the ESA’s astronaut training program in 2009. He was confirmed as an aquanaut in 2012 and spent over 24 hours under water in June 2012. Peake was a back up astronaut for expedition 44, but has become a permanent member of expeditions 46 and 47.
The Soyuz FG rocket took off from the Kazakhstan launch site at 11:03 GMT. The rocket reached zero gravity nine minutes later. During the final phase of the flight, a small problem meant that fellow astronaut Yuri Malechenko had to dock with the space station manually, using the read outs from the ship and correspond them with measurements received from mission control back on Earth. Eventually, the craft docked with the international space station and the crew boarded at 19:58 GMT, after a six and a half hour flight.
Once aboard, Peake’s duties will include taking part in scientific experiments to find out the effects of being in microgravity for long periods of time, space walks and maintaining the international space station, currently humanities main resource for discovering more about space. The mission will last 6 months and the three astronauts that arrived today will join three more that are spending a year in space. Upon completion of this mission, Yuri Malechenko will have logged over 800 days in space, the third largest of anyone to ever go into space.
Britain has been at the forefront of exploring our own planet, especially in Victorian times. However, space exploration is where Britain has somewhat lagged behind America and Russia. Russia sent the first man into space, America the first to put a man on the moon. Nowadays, there isn’t so much rivalry in space, the international space station represents an age of international co-operation in space. Britain has still been somewhat behind even here though but putting Tim Peake on the international space station does give Britain some leverage internationally in space and leaves the door open to more Brits joining the international space station effort.
Temporary image credit to: Virgin Galactic, images.net