The erstwhile ace helicopter pilot becomes the first British astronaut to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) as a member of European Space Agency. His final tweet before the launch to his numerous followers was “Last tweet before launch – GO for flight! Thanks for all the good luck messages – phenomenal support! #Principia.”
Major Peake aka Major Tim, 43, flew to the ISS with companions Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra. The Russian Soyuz TMA-19 capsule, carrying Major Tim docked at 5.33pm, exactly six-and-a-half hours after lift-off at 11.03am. Soyuz spent 30 minutes doing its fly-around while moving at the speed of 20-30 cm per sec as the space travelers made sure each and every part of the capsule was precisely in alignment with the space station.
There were apprehensions and panic as difficulties emerged in navigating the capsule into position. There was a slight delay due to the breakdown with the automatic docking procedure but Commander Yuri Malenchenko took manual control and the contact occurred at 5:33, around nine minutes later than the expected time. The crew was trained extensively for problems concerning automated docking. Major Tim Peake’s family members viewed the theatricals at a local cinema. Major Tim’s mother Angela in the audience said “I’m feeling relieved. I wasn’t really tense, I just feel quite reassured by those around me – they have a lot of experience.”When enquired how it felt like to watch the launch, she told: “It was fantastic, but quite emotional as you can imagine.”
Major Tim Peake gave the thumbs up from interiors of the capsule before they darted towards the space.On board the International Space Station they will perform educational activities to help motivate young people excited about the macrocosm.
The latest crew of ISS is taking a few motion pictures with them, the latest of the Star Wars series and will stay in the orbit for seven months but they wont be without their quota of entertainment and communication.
Tim gave his first reaction on a link back to earth as: “Well, you know it was a beautiful launch and we got launched straight into night and got on with the work. But that first sunrise was absolutely spectacular. And we also got the benefit of a moonrise on the first orbit as well, which was beautiful to see,.”