Belfast Telegraph

Major Tim Peake's blast-off with European Space Agency will be celebrated in Belfast and Armagh

By John von Radowitz

Blast-off for the European Space Agency's first British astronaut will be celebrated tomorrow in Belfast and Armagh.

The space mission, which blasts off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11.03am tomorrow, will see Major Tim Peake (43) start his historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy will be visiting W5 in east Belfast as part of an all-day event of space activities and experiments, including a live feed of the launch and docking.

Also celebrating the much-anticipated launch will be the Armagh Planetarium which will open late to allow attendees to observe the Soyuz capsule docking at the ISS via telescope.

Meanwhile, Major Peake's father has spoken of his pride after watching the Russian rocket that will carry his astronaut son into space being lifted onto its launch pad. Nigel Peake and his wife Angela stood yards away from the 162-ft long Soyuz FG rocket as it was slowly manoeuvred into position ready for lift-off.

Mr Peake, from Chichester, said: "We're immensely proud. As you can imagine, it's quite surreal to think you're the father of an astronaut, especially a British astronaut. So we're very, very proud, and just a little bit over-awed by the whole operation."

He added: "We're not worried at all. We've been following his training and know how thorough it is, so we don't have any fears. I'm more worried about him driving home on the M27. That's far more dangerous, believe me, than going up there."

Major Peake (43), will be the first 100% British professional astronaut to leave the Earth.

The father-of-two, a former Army aviator and helicopter test pilot, is employed by the European Space Agency. Major Peake graduated in 1992 aged 20 from Sandhurst as an officer in the Army Air Corps. He was on attachment with the Royal Green Jackets as a platoon commander in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph


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