Today astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra wowed hundreds of school children with tales from the International Space Station (ISS) on the same day the European Space Agency (ESA) attempted to land the Schiaparelli module on Mars.
The ISS crewmates came to the Science Museum as part of the Principia UK post-flight tour, which has seen them visit seven cities across Britain including all four UK capitals and Manchester, where they touched down at our sister museum, the Museum of Science and Industry.
The Science Museum held a series of events to mark Tim Peake’s mission including the Principia launch day in December 2015, at which 11,000 people watched the UK’s first official ESA astronaut blast into space in a Soyuz capsule, and a screening of his return to Earth with a commentary from the first Briton in space Dr Helen Sharman.
After being introduced in the IMAX theatre by the Science Museum Group’s Deputy Director Jonathan Newby, the two Tims were faced with questions from an audience of hundreds of school children. They tackled the subjects of eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom and getting internet access in space, and both astronauts spoke fondly of their time aboard the ISS.
In response to one question from the audience Tim Kopra explained the space station is controlled from a laptop, whilst the shuttle is older so needs to be controlled manually using around 400 buttons and switches. He said this made it challenging to learn how to fly the shuttle but that the key thing was to know which buttons not to press!
Tim Peake described the personal items he took with him to space which included pictures of family and friends, his marathon training kit (Tim ran the London marathon aboard the ISS in 3 hours and 35 minutes), and a book written by Helen Sharman which was signed by crew mates from her mission to the Mir space station.
After the event Tim Peake was given a tour of Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery by the gallery’s Associate Curator Natalie Mills, where he met with a group of ecstatic school children on the gallery’s giant model of the solar system. A fitting end to the post-flight tour for Tim: back amongst the stars.
Images © Science Museum/James Kar Productions