A short tour of UK venues by Astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra culminated in a sell out session at the Royal Albert Hall, in London, on October 19th 2016. The subject of the evening was Expedition 46, a six month mission of scientific research work aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This was the second time I saw Major Peake speak at an event, the first was at an evening lecture at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory back on May 11th 2012.
In 2012 Peake's passion for the scientific process and space exploration was clear for all to see. Tim described his training regime and how he hoped that one day he would be selected for a mission to travel to the ISS. I crossed my fingers and hoped that he would become an astronaut.In 2015 Tim Peake launched into space representing the ESA and the UK, and with news stories, and social media, thousands of people in the UK keenly followed his progress.
The proceedings at the Royal Albert Hall began with a summary of the final preparation and rituals associated with launch day traditions. The traditions stem from those first experiences by Yuri Gagarin in 1961. After a description of the pre-launch procedures we heard a recording of the Soyuz rocket launch, a rather different use of the Royal Albert Hall's great acoustics! The launch energy was clear from the audio recording, there was a very loud and sustained roar which was full of cracking and popping sounds.
Both Tims described the launch from their exclusive vantage point in the capsule. The sound is more a vibration in the capsule and they described the sense of acceleration and speed. The relentless acceleration as the craft leaves the grip of earths gravity.
Tim Peake enjoyed capturing the views of earth with photos taken of all sorts of places around the globe from the windows of the ISS. Both Tim's explained how the they squeezed in viewing earth and taking photos into their schedule of work. The majority of the time through the week is spent of scientific research and outreach to schools, colleges and universities, inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and even astronauts.
In the rest of the time, typically the weekend, the astronauts spend time maintaining and cleaning the ISS. This included the opportunity for Tim Peake to leave the station with a space walk. A highlight of both his own experience and the presentation too.
There was an extended Q&A session too, with a long queue of people wanting to ask questions about space travel and both Tim's experiences.