Ground Control to Major Tim!

human spaceflight

I was delighted to receive an invitation on Friday “Celebrating European Space Agency Astronaut Announcement”

You are cordially invited to join the Right Honourable David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, the Right Honourable Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, and British ESA Astronaut, Timothy Peake for celebration of the UK’s involvement in human space flight.

ESA Astronaut Announcement reception invitation

ESA Astronaut Announcement reception invitation

What could this mean? Has Tim Peake finally been selected?

We hope that you are able to join us for this historic moment for the UK space sector.

The e-mail didn’t give specifics, but it very much sounded like this was the case. Luca Parmitiano is due up on Expedition 37 for the “Volare” mission to replace Expedition 35 who landed safely earlier last week. Had he or someone taken ill last minute? I began to wonder with great intrigue.

On Sunday news broke via Twitter and via The Observer “Briton picked for five-month mission on International Space Station in 2015”, among others. I was almost certain that this was true, given the invitation. I later learnt this news was under embargo until a press release at the National Science Museum which was held on Monday morning.

Thomas Reiter, David Willetts, Tim Peake and David Parker at National Science Museum press conference © Max Alexander 2013 Max Alexander/UK Space Agency

Thomas Reiter, David Willetts, Tim Peake and David Parker at National Science Museum press conference © Max Alexander 2013 Max Alexander/UK Space Agency

News was confirmed in official announcements through the Monday morning press conference with officials, including The Rt Hon David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science and Dr David Parker, CEO of the UK Space Agency (pictured above). Articles can be viewed below.

I am gutted I wasn’t able to attend (due to family) but many of my UKSEDS colleagues were able to attend in my absence.

cropped-astronaut_photo.jpg

Me (left) with Tim Peake (UK ESA Astronaut) and Paolo Nespoli (ESA Italian Astronaut) at Farnborough International Airshow last year.

A full gallery of images via the UK Space Agency can be viewed on their Flickr stream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacegovuk/sets/72157633542619422/with/8757791166/