IOP hails Tim Peake’s successful launch into space

15 December 2015

The Institute of Physics applauded Major Tim Peake, the first official British astronaut to go into space, as he began his journey to the International Space Station this morning for a six-month mission to undertake experiments in microgravity.

Tim Peake

Peake’s mission, named Principia, will involve conducting more than 30 experiments for the European Space Agency and around 15 for the US, Canadian, and Japanese space agencies. These will include experiments on liquid metals and plasmas as well as research into the human body, bacteria and robotics.

Peake is also an ambassador for scientific and space-based careers and Principia includes an extensive education and outreach programme.

IOP chief executive Professor Paul Hardaker watched the take-off of the Soyuz spacecraft at the Science Museum in London, and said that the atmosphere there was fantastic. “The Science Museum was full of schoolchildren and a handful of astronauts including our own Helen Sharman, our first Briton in space. We all cheered Tim on together, all 3,000 of us.

“It’s a very important science mission, great for our space industry but also hugely inspirational for schoolchildren everywhere who will be our scientists and engineers of tomorrow.  

“Who knows, one of them there today might even be the first person from the UK to set foot on Mars.”

Professor Sarah Thompson, vice president of science and innovation at the IOP, also offered her congratulations to the Principia team: “The IOP congratulates Tim Peake and all of those involved in supporting the Principia mission on this morning’s successful launch from Kazakhstan.

“As well as directly contributing to scientific research, prominent missions such as these help to raise the profile of the UK space industry and UK space science, both of which are very strong and provide significant payback to the UK economy. They also help to inspire and enthuse the next generation to become tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.”