Tim Peake in Yorkshire to inspire new generation of scientists

Tim Peake.
Tim Peake.
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FROM TRAVELLING at 10 times the speed of a bullet to get into the Earth’s orbit to vacuuming the inside of the International Space Station, Major Tim Peake’s extraordinary adventure has captured the imagination of the nation.

And the first British male astronaut to experience the wonders of space was in Yorkshire at the weekend to inspire a new generation of scientists during an event at York University.

More than 400 children from 80 schools across the North of England and as far afield as Scotland and London were given a 40-minute insight from Maj Peake into his time aboard the ISS.

He spoke of the moment a Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off in Kazakhstan to make the historic flight on December 15 last year, before spending six months orbiting the Earth 16 times every day.

He told the audience of how the rocket had to travel at 25 times the speed of sound just to reach the Earth’s orbit, and also shared the moment when he made his four-hour and 43-minute space walk - which nearly never happened as a spacesuit in Maj Peake’s size of medium did not arrive at the ISS until the week before.

Speaking about his highlights onboard the ISS, Maj Peake, 44, said: “The first few days you are overwhelmed by the scale of what you are seeing. You can see 2,000 kilometres in any direction, so from over the French Alps there is Greece and then there’s Scotland all within one turn of the head.

“Which is remarkable and it takes a while to absorb that, but as you orbit the Earth 16 times every day you get to know the planet very well, and parts of the world you perhaps will never visit.”

While working 12-hour days to conduct a host of experiments to learn more about the impact which space has on the human body, Maj Peake and the other five-strong team onboard the ISS were not able to escape the more mundane tasks they have to endure on Earth.

Every Saturday was spent cleaning the inside of the space station, vacuuming dust from air filters and also mopping the surfaces with disinfectant wipes to ensure that no-one contracted a virus while 250 miles above the Earth.

But while he shared his experiences in space, father-of-two Maj Peake’s main aim was to inspire the children in attendance to pursue a career in science - and potentially follow in his footsteps.

The Principia mission onboard the ISS has so far involved more than a million children through education projects, and Maj Peake was announced as the first ever honorary ambassador of the National STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Learning Centre, which is based at York University.

During the event on Saturday, children gave presentations on their science projects inspired by Chichester-born Maj Peake’s mission, including growing seeds which had been into space to see how they compared to Earth-bound seedlings.

Among the children at York University were pupils from Ormiston Maritime Academy in Grimsby with their science teachers, Hana Standing and Adam Bilton, who oversaw projects which included a web chat with scientists involved in Maj Peake’s time in space.

One of the students, Ali Parnian, 13, said: “It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet an astronaut. It is amazing what Tim Peake has done, and it makes you feel like you want to know more about his mission and science in general.”