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Good Luck Tim Peake!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 11:44
Published on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 00:01

The Royal Astronomical Society would like to wish Tim Peake, the first official UK ESA astronaut, good luck on his launch into space today (15 December), en route to the International Space Station.

Tim will be accompanied by Russian cosmonaut and mission commander Yuri Malenchenko, and US astronaut and flight engineer Timothy Kopra. The crew will travel into orbit in a Soyuz spacecraft, which took off at lunchtime today, from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Timothy Peake smallTimothy Peake, the first official UK ESA astronaut. Credit: European Space AgencyThe three space travellers will spend about six months on board the Space Station. During his stay on the orbiting outpost, Tim will be carrying out scientific research, including studies of how human beings are affected by long periods in microgravity, how organisms fare in the harsh space environment, and the feasibility of controlling a robotic rover from orbit. He will also use the mission to engage the public, including schoolchildren across the UK, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This flight is the culmination of a change in UK government policy that ended the bar on participation in human spaceflight. An influential RAS report in 2005 helped start this process, with a panel of leading scientists arguing that human beings in space could make a unique contribution to science, beyond the capabilities of robots alone.

Royal Astronomical Society President-Elect, Professor John Zarnecki, said: “In the UK we have waited a long time for our own ‘official’ astronaut. Back in 2005 the Royal Astronomical Society commissioned a report into the scientific value of human space exploration – and in the process changed the mind of many sceptics. I’m 100% behind Tim on his voyage into space, and I hope he’s the first of many Brits to make the same journey.”

Tim’s mission is named Principia, after the seminal work on gravitation and the laws of motion, by Sir Isaac Newton. The UK Space Agency website on the mission has a full description of its goals and a range of educational resources.

Previous British astronauts include Dr Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, who travelled to the Mir space station in a privately sponsored initiative in 1991. NASA astronauts Michael Foale, Piers Sellers, Nicolas Patrick, and private astronaut Richard Garriott, were born with British or dual citizenship, and travelled to space as US or dual nationals. Mark Shuttleworth holds dual South African and British citizenship, and flew to the Space Station as a private astronaut in 2002.


Media contacts

Dr Robert Massey
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
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Dr Sam Lindsay
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307
Mob: +44 (0)7957 566 861
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Dr Morgan Hollis
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307
Mob: +44 (0)7724 959 510
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Further information

2005 Royal Astronomical Society Report of the Commission on the Scientific Case for Human Space Exploration, Professor Frank Close, OBE, Dr John Dudeney, OBE and Professor Ken Pounds, CBE FRS.


Notes for editors

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3900 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

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