When did Tim Peake go into space, and what was he doing there?

14th Jun 2022
When did Tim Peake go into space, and what was he doing there?

Since the first manned spaceflight in 1961, 600 astronauts have been in space, but Tim Peake holds a special place among them. The astronauts were mostly Americans and Russians, though there have also been seven Britons to date. Three were space tourists, three flew into space under the US flag, and only one is considered an official British astronaut. Learn the exciting story of Tim Peake — an astronaut the whole of Britain is proud of.

What did Tim Peake do before he was an astronaut?

Timothy Nigel Peake was born on April 7, 1972, in a rural village in West Sussex. Peake developed an interest in flying at a young age when his father, a journalist, took him to an air show. At 13, Tim joined the school’s military orientation program, and at 16, he conclusively decided that he would become a military pilot.

After graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1992, Peake joined the British Army Air Corps. Tim flew missions in Germany, Northern Ireland, Kenya, Canada, the Balkans, and Afghanistan; commanded a US Army platoon at Fort Hood, Texas, worked as an Apache helicopter instructor, and trained test pilots. In 2006, Peake received a bachelor’s degree in flight dynamics at the University of Portsmouth, after which he left the British army with the rank of major and served for another three years in the Boscombe Down helicopter test squadron. During his 18 years of military service, Tim Peake flew more than 3,000 hours in 30 types of helicopters and aircraft.

Such rich experience did not go unnoticed, and in 2009, Peake was selected among 6 applicants out of 9,000 (!) to participate in the fourth intake to the ESA astronaut training program. At the training centre, Peake went through a harsh school of space tests, acquired skills related to psychological stability, and survival in extreme conditions including weightlessness, underground and water. In 2012, Tim Peake was certified to work in open space, and on May 20, 2013, he was officially included in the ESA crew of the ISS. His first flight would take place two and half years later.

When and why did Tim Peake go to space?

Tim Peake launched into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 15, 2015, as part of the crew of the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft, along with Russian Yuri Malenchenko and American Tim Kopra. How long did it take Tim Peake to reach the ISS? Just three days later, the ship successfully docked with the International Space Station.

On January 15, 2016, Tim Peake and Tim Kopra went into outer space on a mission to replace a failed voltage regulator on the ISS solar panels. To avoid electric shock, they had to work in complete darkness, so that the panels would not generate power. The astronauts also laid cables for the future installation of a docking adapter and performed other tasks. They spent a total of 4 hours and 45 minutes outside the station.

So, Tim Peake became the first official astronaut to fly to the ISS under the British flag and perform a spacewalk. This event, without exaggeration, became historic for the whole of British astronautics. Before Peake, only one Briton, Michael Fowles, had managed this in 1995, but he was a NASA astronaut and represented the interests of the USA.

What was Tim Peake’s mission in space called?

Tim Peake’s mission was fundamental for the UK, and therefore the name was chosen appropriately — Principia. Thanks to Principia, thousands of British developed an interest in space and science. And the Space Diary education programme, run by Peake at the ISS, has become a catalyst for STEM revitalization in UK’s primary and secondary schools, helping to address the lack of STEM skills in many industries.

“The Space Diary not only teaches children about space and science but also crosses lots of other disciplines and incorporates books, digital and multimedia to encourage full participation. Now that I’m back safely on Earth, I look forward to seeing what this new corps of Space Apprentices do with their new Space Diaries”, said Tim Peake after the Principia mission was over.

In 2017, Space Diary was a finalist for the Sir Arthur Clarke Prize for Space Education and Outreach.

What did Tim Peake do while in space?

According to the ESA reports, Tim Peake had a rather busy schedule aboard the station: keeping fit, doing maintenance, taking the time to post funny tweets — but most importantly, doing new research in science and technology. So what experiments did Tim Peake do in space? Let’s take a closer look.

Virtual Reality Space Invaders

On March 18, 2015, Tim Peake and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tested a new virtual reality technology that allowed Mission Control to look over their shoulders as they worked. To test it, they played Space Invaders.

Aurora Time-lapse

April 23, 2016, Peake took slow-motion footage of the aurora. A truly magical sight.

London Marathon: Why not?

On April 24, 2016, Tim Peake took a virtual part in the London Marathon. He ran the entire distance (42 km 195 m) along the treadmill aboard the ISS. Since Tim had already taken a real run in the London Marathon in 1999 and had been running cross-country for a long time, the virtual marathon was not a big challenge for him.

Tim Peake‘s Dizziness Experiment

On June 12, 2016, Tim Peake tested whether it is possible to experience the same dizziness in space as on Earth. The state of weightlessness changes the functionality of the human inner ear and the sense of body balance. Tim asked Tim Copra to spin him around to see how dizzy he got. You can see the results in the video.

Talking to legends

One of Tim Peake’s most cherished moments on the mission was the opportunity to speak with Professor Stephen Hawking. During the hour-long video call, they discussed a variety of topics, from their favourite music to quantum physics and the future of humanity. Tim also talked to his other idol, doctor of astrophysics and legendary Queen musician Brian May.

Water ping pong in space

On February 2, 2016, Tim Peake played with a water bubble in zero gravity. This video was live-streamed as part of the Cosmic Classroom programme, during which children could ask the astronaut direct questions.

Interestingly, the new Netflix movie about Elon Musk, Return to Space, questions the authenticity of this video. One scene in the film shows Time Peake at the ESA Space Centre playing against a green background with an ordinary rubber ball. The scene is very similar to his game with a water bubble on the ISS. Film creators are wondering if Tim Peake was really in space, or was he filming his videos on chromakey while on Earth? What do you think?

What food did Tim Peake eat in space?

Tim Peake’s first meal in space was a bacon sandwich and tea. He said that after a three-day flight, the meal was incredibly delicious. And in this video Tim is going to eat scrambled eggs.

And, of course, you will want to know how ISS astronauts go to the bathroom. From the next video, you will learn, how it is done.

How many days did Tim Peake spend in space?

The Principia mission lasted 186 days and 11 hours. On June 18, 2016, Tim Peake, as part of the Soyuz TMA-19M crew, successfully landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan, not far from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where he started. After that, he went on a nationwide tour, visited many schools around the country and used the Space Diary to inspire thousands of young Brits to pursue careers in space. He will be forever remembered along with those few people who were hundreds of miles above the Earth and saw its incredible beauty.

What does Tim Peake do now?

Today, Tim Peake continues to take an active part in the development of the UK space industry. He is an ambassador for STEM Education, The Prince’s Trust and the Scout Association. He has written three books on space, the proceeds of which are donated to The Prince’s Trust. Tim loves to spend his free time with his family. He is married and has two sons. The astronaut is fond of reading, skiing, mountain climbing, speleology and dreams of returning to space once again. So, quite possibly, in a few years, we will be able to answer the question: “When did Tim Peake go to the moon?”

Timothy Peake’s awards and achievements

  • 1998 – Combat Survival and Rescue Instructor Qualification
  • 2006 – diploma for exemplary and dedicated service in the British Army
  • 2010 – ESA certified astronaut
  • 2016 – Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George for services to space exploration and science education

Books, written by Tim Peake:

  • 2016 – Hello, is this planet Earth? : my View from the International Space Station
  • 2017 – Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space
  • 2018 – The Astronaut Selection Test Book: Do You Have What it Takes for Space?

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