There have been emotional scenes as British astronaut Tim Peake said goodbye to family & friends before setting off to be launched into space to the International Space Station (ISS).
Major Peake & his two colleagues â€“ Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko & NASA astronaut Tim Kopra – will take off in the Soyuz FG rocket at 11.03am UK time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
The launch will be watched by his two young children & his wife Rebecca. Tim's youngest son Oliver, four, sitting on the shoulders of his grandfather, Tim's father-in-law, cried loudly, saying: "I want to go with daddy."
Skyâ€™s Science Correspondent Thomas Moore said: "Tim's family & his sons are at the hotel where he has been in quarantine & one of his sons was crying. It is clearly an emotional time as they won't see him for some time.
"I managed to grab a quick word with his wife. She said he is very relaxed & looking forward to it & just wanting to obtain into the rocket. He slept very well quite remarkably.
"This is clearly a man who just wants to obtain on with the job."
In his final Tweet before launch he said: "GO for flight! Thanks for all the satisfactory luck messages – phenomenal support! #Principia"
The 43-year-old will spend six months on the ISS & told a news conference on Monday he is most looking forward to looking at Earth from space.
"I don't think anything can truly prepare you for that moment & that will occur in the Soyuz spacecraft once we obtain injected into orbit I'll be able to look out the right window & see the attractive view of Planet Earth."
He added: "This isn't a one off mission.
"We have a serious project in the European Space Station to land on the moon, & that is part of an exploration of the solar system that will eventually take us to Mars."
Major Peake will launch from the same spot from which Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space in April 1961.
The crew have a tense wait of around an hour in the tiny capsule before they leave for the ISS.
And Major Peake has chosen three songs to listen to keep him entertained – Queen's Don't Stop Me Now, U2's Beautiful Day, & Coldplay's A Sky Full Of Stars.
After lift-off, it should take six hours for the crew to reach the ISS, which travels around the Earth at 17,500mph at an average altitude of 220 miles.
During his time aboard the space station, Major Peake 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.
:: Watch Tim Peake blast off into space at 11.03am on Sky News TV – channels Sky 501, Virgin Media 602, Freesat 202, Freeview 132 – & on our mobile apps.
:: You can moreover watch a Sky News special programme tonight at 8.30pm.
Source: “Sky News”