Tim Peake on International Space Station

Major Tim Peake is the first British astronaut to leave Earth in more than two decades.

After 186 days in space for his Principia mission on the International Space Station, he returned to Earth at 10:15 on 18 June 2016, landing in Kazakhstan with commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA’s Tim Kopra in the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft.

On landing, the capsule was pulled over onto its side but that’s fairly normal.

Tim’s said:

“Best ride I’ve been on ever!”

Although he was clearly looking forward to seeing his family he said he would also miss space: “It’s overwhelming really to be up there. I’m going to miss the view, definitely.”

So what food and drink was he looking forward to? – pizza later and maybe a cool beer!

The ESA website explains what sort of things Tim faced on his ride:

“Shortly after the deorbit burn, Soyuz separates into three parts. The orbital and service modules burn up on reentry in the denser layers of Earth’s atmosphere. The descent module turns to position its heatshield towards the direction of reentry, so that it can handle the 1600°C created by the friction with our atmosphere.

“Reentry starts at an altitude of about 120 km, when their cruising speed of 28 800 km/h is reduced dramatically and the crew are pushed back into their seats with a force of 4–5 g. This is equivalent to four to five times their own body weight.

“Parachutes reduce the speed further and the astronaut’s custom-fitted seats absorb the shock of landing. At the last moment, retrorockets fire to limit the impact to around 5 km/h.

“After landing, the crew deploy a communication antenna for the rescue teams to pinpoint them, but search and rescue teams are often already onsite to retrieve the space voyagers.

“Tim is the eighth ESA astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in space. He will be the third astronaut after Alexander Gerst and Andreas Mogensen to fly directly to ESA’s astronaut home base in Cologne, Germany, for checkups and to allow researchers to collect more data on how Tim’s body and mind have adapted to living in space.”

Tim’s last tweet from the space station was: “Time to put on some weight! What an incredible journey it has been– thank you for following & see you back on Earth!”

History – heading in to space

The Russian Soyuz rocket took off on 15 December 2015 from Baiknour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:03 GMT (5.03pm local time) watched by his wife Rebecca and sons Thomas, 6, and Oliver, 4. Soyuz manually docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at 17:33 GMT, piloted by Commander Yuri Malenchenko after a journey of around 6.5 hours.

His first tweet from space was: “Hi from #ISS! What an incredible ride to space yesterday-Soyuz felt so smooth & powerful. Yuri did outstanding job getting us safely docked.”

Tim spent six months orbiting our planet on Expedition 46/47 taking part in science experiments.

On 15 January 2016, he carried out his first spacewalk alongside NASA astronaut Tim Kopra to repair a power unit. It began at 12:55 GMT and should have lasted around last six and a half hours but was cut short at around 4 and half hours because of  a water leak problem with Tim Kopra’s space suit.

He tweeted after the spacewalk “Today’s exhilarating #spacewalk will be etched in my memory forever – quite an incredible feeling!”

Follow Tim on Twitter: @astro_timpeake

  • He served with Rotary Wing Test Squadron, Boscombe Down, between 2006 and 2009.
  • Before boarding the rocket, Tim Peake added his signature to the door at the astronaut hotel, following a tradition of many astronauts before him.
  • His last tweet on Earth was: “Last tweet before launch – GO for flight! Thanks for all the good luck messages – phenomenal support! #Principia”
  • His fellow crew members are  Yuri Malenchenko (Russian) and Tim Kopra (American)
  • It’s unusual for the Soyuz crew to have to manually dock the spacecraft at the space station.
  • The ISS orbits Earth about every 90 minutes, (approx 16 times in 24 hours)
  • The ISS travels at around 15,500 miles per hour (seven kilometers per second)
  • Peake was the first astronaut representing the UK to carry out a spacewalk