Peake's Mission: Rocket Rolls To Launch Pad

Peake's Mission: Rocket Rolls To Launch Pad

The Soyuz spacecraft that will take British astronaut Tim Peake into space has been rolled out to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The rocket, which is 50 metres long & weighs 300 tons, was hauled by a train on the world's largest industrial railway from the hangar where it has been assembled.

It is now in a vertical position on launch pad number one at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where Yuri Gagarin blasted off in 1961 to become the first human in space.

Major Peake will be the second Briton in space after Helen Sharman, yet the first to be funded by the UK Government.

He will moreover be the first British astronaut to travel to, & live on board, the International Space Station (ISS) when he starts his six-month mission on Tuesday.

Frank de Winne, the head of the European Space Agency's training programme & a former astronaut himself, has admitted to feeling nervous.

He told Sky News: "If it's a really close friend or one of your people & the family is close by it's an emotional moment. You really live with them through this moment."

The Soyuz’s engines will produce 26 million horsepower of thrust, accelerating the three-man crew to 17,500mph in less than nine minutes.

Hundreds of rocket tourists have gathered for the launch, including space scientists.

Prof Monica Grady, of the Open University, said: "100% of me would love to be up there. But 100% of me is relieved to be on the ground.

"It’s mixed feelings. I would absolutely love to go into space."

Major Peake will travel with NASA astronaut Tim Kopra & Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko to the ISS.

As well as carrying out a series of experiments for the ESA, he will be running science projects designed by children.

The crew's mission is titled Principia, after Isaac Newton's ground-breaking Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which describes the principal laws of motion & gravity.

The three men are currently in quarantine at Baikonur’s Cosmonaut Hotel, & have been isolated to prevent potentially serious infections from being carried to the ISS.

With just two days to go until lift-off, Major Peake has used social media to provide updates on his upcoming trip, & revealed that he will be watching the new Star Wars film on board the ISS.

He has moreover been enjoying tweets of support – including from the 1980s pop band Duran Duran.

The group tweeted: "Lots of luck to you – looking forward to following your progress in space."

The astronaut responded by saying: "How cool? A message from the impressive @duranduran – thanks guys!! Escaping #PlanetEarth shortly #spacerocks."

Source: “Sky News”