Astronaut Tim Peake has been reunited with the capsule that brought him back to earth after his six month mission in space.
The Soyuz TMA-19M descent module has gone on display at the National Museum of Scotland (NMS) in Edinburgh along with the spacesuit Major Peake wore on his high-speed journey back from the International Space Station (ISS).
The capsule, which bears scorch marks from its journey through the atmosphere, was the only part of the spacecraft to return to earth, landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan on Saturday June 18, 2016.
Major Peake, 46, said seeing the module again reminds him of his mission.
The married father-of-two said: “Every time I see it it brings back huge memories of the mission particularly when you see the condition of the spacecraft now, it evokes memories of the re-entry and how punishing that was, 1500C and eight minutes as this thing was coming through the atmosphere, but on the whole it brings back memories of the whole mission.
“The return journey is a dynamic event, there’s an awful lot happens in this spacecraft.
“We leave the space station about three hours before we actually re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and it has to do a de-orbit burn, it has to separate into three parts and then it has to go through about eight minutes of re-entry and then of course the parachute has to open successfully and then land on the steppes of Kazakhstan so there’s an awful lot goes on with the re-entry and landing – it’s a very complex part of the mission.”
During his 186 days in space Major Peake participated in more than 250 scientific experiments, ran the London Marathon in space and read the CBeebies bedtime story to children on earth.
He said one of the highlights of his Principia mission was conducting a spacewalk to repair the station’s power supply together with NASA astronaut Tim Kopra.
Major Peake, a former British Army Air Corps officer, said: “The whole mission is a wonderful privilege to be living and working in space.
“But one part for me that was the most special would be the spacewalk, to actually go outside the space station was an incredible feeling, in a space suit just looking down on earth.”
Pupils from Dunipace Primary School in Falkirk took part in a question and answer session with Major Peake beside the capsule.
During the session Major Peake described how he and the crew watched Star Wars on the ISS and said there are instruments such as a keyboard and guitar on board for the crew to play if they are feeling musical.
Major Peake, from Westbourne in West Sussex, hopes seeing the capsule will inspire people to learn about space.
The module was acquired by the Science Museum Group in 2016 and is going on a UK tour, with the National Museum of Scotland the only Scottish venue.
Major Peake said it has had a “fantastic reception” wherever it has gone and hopes it will inspire people to think about science and space exploration.
The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut hopes to return to space, saying that ESA hopes to fly all of his class to the ISS at least twice.
The capsule will be on display in Edinburgh from May 17 to August 4.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, NMS director, said: “Space travel is a captivating subject and I know thousands of our visitors will flock to the museum in the coming months to see this fascinating capsule close up.”
- Press Association