To celebrate the countdown to the launch of Tim Peake, the UK’s first European Space Agency astronaut, the museum has recorded his #spacememory to show how space exploration is the most inspirational of all human endeavours.
We will share the cosmic memory of Tim on Twitter – follow @sciencemuseum – along with those of other well-known figures, from Stephen Fry to Nobel prize-winner Sir Paul Nurse. And, of course, we would like to hear your #spacememory too – let us know on Twitter, and via Facebook too.
This morning Tim Peake was in the Science Museum to announce the countdown to his Principia mission to the International Space Station. ‘It’s a huge privilege to sit here’ he said, adding that he hopes some of the children inspired by his mission will be among the first men and women on Mars.
Tim Peake’s lift-off on December15 from Baikonur will be celebrated with a series of events in the Museum, including BBC’s Stargazing Live.
At today’s press conference, the Director of the Science Museum, Ian Blatchford, said ‘Our curiosity about space is fundamental… everyone we talked to had something to say for our space memory project, whether about the impact of Sputnik or the moon landings.”
Tim Peake recorded his #spacememory this morning in addition to those already contributed by UK’s first astronaut, and cosmonaut, Helen Sharman; wit and thespian Stephen Fry; actresses Julia McKenzie, Maureen Lipman, and MyAnna Buring; Cosmonauts curator Doug Millard; actress and former model Jerry Hall, bestselling author and geneticist Steve Jones; cosmonaut Claudie Haigneré; UK Space Agency’s Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager, Libby Jackson; choreographer and director Arlene Phillips; and Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society.
The inspirational possibilities of space are reflected in the pioneering vision of the Cosmist movement which spurred on the Soviet Union to win the race into space more than half a century ago.
Cosmist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the grandfather of Soviet space travel who features in our landmark exhibition, Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, famously stated: “The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle.”
Speaking today at the press conference, the Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson said he was ‘truly honoured to be here’ and called Principia ‘our moon-shot moment as a country.’
‘The story of Tim Peake starts in the Science Museum,’ added Chief Executive, UK Space Agency, David Parker, referring to the launch press conference in 2013, after Tim was selected from 8000 candidates.
With them was the European astronaut who has spent most time in space, Thomas Reiter, Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations at the European Space Agency, who talked of the ‘special relationship’ with the museum, adding ‘here we are again to say farewell to Tim, who will leave our planet for half a year.’
Tim’s mission is being supported by a £1.5m education programme, drawn up in consultation with the wider Government agenda on STEM and Department for Education, including YourLife and National Science and Engineering Week.
To inspire the next generation of astronaut the UK Space Agency is launching an array of new initiatives at museums such as our own and science and discovery centres that will allow him to share his mission with the children of the UK. More visitors come to the Science Museum in education groups than to any other UK museum.
True to the Cosmist vision, Tim Peake will conduct 265 scientific experiments which will increase knowledge, deliver benefits on Earth and test technologies for future exploration, such as to the Moon or Mars. Of all his challenges in his mission, he said he was most excited by the thought of a spacewalk.
Tim was selected in May 2013, the first by a British astronaut since Helen Sharman two decades ago, following the government’s increased investment in the European Space Agency and first time investment in the ISS programme by the then Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, who is now a Trustee of the Science Museum Group.
Celebratory launch events organised by South Kensington’s world-leading arts and cultural institutions will give more than 10,000 members of the general public the chance to take part in a variety of activities and we will air live footage of Tim’s launch and first moments on board the ISS).
Tim also announced today that he was going to be an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, which also has also worked on educational programmes with the museum and Will.i.am.
When asked how Santa would deliver his Christmas presents, Tim Peake told a Chichester schoolboy that he would keep a watch from the ISS for ‘unusual activity’, though he said they would probably arrive on an Orbital 4 spacecraft, rather than reindeer.
Among the throng at the press conference was the Royal Institution Christmas lecturer, Kevin Fong.
Roger Highfield is Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum.