Briton In Space: 'Hope You Enjoyed The Show'

Briton In Space: 'Hope You Enjoyed The Show'

Tim Peake has become the first British astronaut to board the International Space Station, which will be his home for the next six months.

Major Peake along with Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko & NASA astronaut Tim Kopra were greeted by the existing crew of the ISS, which travels around the Earth at 17,500mph at an average height of 220 miles.

Speaking to his family after arriving, the Briton said: "It was a attractive launch. The first sunrise was absolutely spectacular. To Europe & the UK, I hope you enjoyed the show."

The 43-year-old astronaut, who works for the European Space Agency, moreover joked that it was a "great time in the office".

The Queen & Prince Philip have congratulated him on his arrival at the ISS.

A statement read: "We hope that Major Peake's work on the Space Station will serve as an inspiration to a new generation of scientists & engineers.

"The thoughts & prayers of the whole country are with him & the crew, especially at this time of year."

Around a couple of hours earlier, his capsule had docked successfully with the station & safety checks were then carried out & air pressure equalised before the trio could enter.

But the docking was not entirely a smooth operation as there were some difficulties in manoeuvring the capsule into position automatically.

Commander Malenchenko took manual control & backed the capsule away before making a second attempt to re-align it with the ISS docking port.

This put the operation around 10 minutes behind schedule & the connection eventually took place at 5.33pm UK time.

The capsule had spent just over half an hour completing its fly-around as the three astronauts on-board made sure every part of the craft was precisely aligned.

Major Peake, who is a former Army aviator & helicopter test pilot, is now the first fully British professional astronaut to be sent into space.

During his time aboard the space station, he will take part in hundreds of experiments aimed at finding out the effects of microgravity on his own body.

In April he will run the entire 26.2-mile London Marathon on a treadmill aboard the space station.

Other maintenance duties could see him taking space walks.

The three crew had taken off in their 305-ton Soyuz FG rocket at 11.03am UK time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

Sky's Science Correspondent Thomas Moore watched from a vantage point a mile across the Kazakhstan steppe.

He said: "Despite the distance the light from the rocket’s flames was so bright it injure our eyes. And the thundering crackle from 26 million horsepower rattled our chests.

The Briton looked at the on-board video camera & gave a thumbs up gesture as the craft completed its first booster stage & the boosters fell away.

Zero gravity was reached by the Soyuz spacecraft after nine minutes of travel. The gravity indicator inside the capsule could be seen floating away in the on-board footage.

It followed an emotional farewell with his family & friends, during which his young son cried loudly, saying: "I want to go with daddy."

Speaking approximately the launch, his wife Rebecca said: "Wasn't it an astonishing sight? I had the biggest smile on my face."

Major Peake launched from the same spot from which Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space in April 1961.

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Source: “Sky News”