15 December 2015
If I told you that I had set a goal to go into space, you might think I was pulling your leg. I wonder if that was the response that Tim Peake got when he set that goal. Yet, today, he became the first official publicly-funded British astronaut to blast off into space.
After six years of training, two weeks in quarantine and what must have felt like an age to say goodbye to his friends and family, the mission launched – Tim, alongside American Tim Kopra and Russian Yuri Malenchenko.
Tim is set for the ISS where he will arrive at around 5pm this evening to conduct experiments, carry out educational activities and make history as the first official UK astronaut.
Whilst Tim’s story is quite incredible – beating 8,000 applicants for his spot on Esa’s new astronaut training programme, one of just six places – before this flight, he was a backup for an earlier space flight, going through all of the preparations without reaching the actual journey into space.
Can you imagine, all of that work and effort and coming so very close to achieving your goal, only to miss it at the final stage? He must be extraordinarily resilient. I believe that he must have had an incredible amount of faith in his goal to reach ISS to know that next time, that would be him.
According to the BBC the mission might never have happened, had the then-science minister David Willetts not successfully argued to end to the government’s opposition to human spaceflight. He brought about the change through negotiations in 2012 with officials from Esa.
Mr Willetts told BBC News that Mr Peake had been on the training programme, but – at that time – not part of the manned flight programme.
“Sadly he was very unlikely to get a flight up to the space station. We moved into participating in manned missions. The fact he’s going to do some great science while he’s up there has justified that decision.”
Despite all of that, Tim today will reach ISS and see the whole of the world, moon and stars – whilst the rest of us on Earth are waiting to see the new Star Wars movie in cinemas!
It is an incredible tale of how powerful a human can be when they set their mind to a task. If we can reach space, what else can we achieve?
I will be watching Tim’s journey with absolute fascination.
Have you ever set a seemingly impossible goal and hit it? I would love to know your stories.