Rugby School becomes celebration hub for Tim Peake’s launch to International Space Station today

Crew portrait with Tim Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Timothy Kopra. Photo credit: ESA/GCTC
Crew portrait with Tim Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Timothy Kopra. Photo credit: ESA/GCTC

Rugby School will be the Warwickshire hub for National Space Academy celebrations today as British astronaut Tim Peake launches to the International Space Station.

Organised by National Space Academy Lead Educator Andy Davies, the event will give Rugby School students the chance to watch the launch of the first British astronaut for 24 years.

Tim Peake, part of the European Space Agency’s class of 2009 and the only British person to ever become an ESA astronaut, will launch in a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, at 11.03 GMT today (December 15).

During his six month mission working on the space station, Tim will use his spare time to support education activities, including the National Space Academy’s project demonstrating fundamental physics topics, Astro Academy: Principia.

This project will lead to a suite of freely available teaching films and accompanying teacher education guides that will be released in 2016.

Pupils will have the opportunity to watch the launch together, and take part in some special classroom activities exploring the science of human spaceflight.

They have also been encouraged to follow Tim’s journey at home when his Soyuz craft docks with the space station at 16.58 GMT, followed by the hatch opening and his entry with his crewmates on to the space station at 18.33 GMT.

National Space Academy manager, Dr Kierann Shah, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to know that our Lead Educators are celebrating this historic event with their schools.

“The Principia mission is all about linking not only the work of British ESA astronaut Tim Peake with the science we do in schools, but also about highlighting the variety of roles of those in the space sector who support missions like his.

“It takes the work of hundreds of scientists and engineers to set up a launch like this, as well as great international collaboration, and it is a brilliant example for young people. Not to mention very exciting for all of us.

“Our best wishes go out to Tim for his mission and our thanks to Rugby School for taking the time to mark this occasion.”

Go to www.nationalspaceacademy.org for more information on space education and development programmes.