The first British astronaut to go into space in over 20 years – and the first ever to board the International Space Station (ISS) – Major Tim Peake has just blasted off on his six-month mission.
The trailblazing astro-scientist has just launched from a Kazakhstan spaceport in the Soyuz rocket alongside Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko and American NASA astronaut Tim Kopra. Their journey to the ISS will take around six hours, then Major Peake, 43, will spend six months orbiting the planet on his Principia mission, monitoring the effects of prolonged time in space on his body.
— NASA (@NASA) December 15, 2015
The research is aimed at understanding how, in the future when they are sent on long-duration missions to other planets such as Mars, prolonged periods in space will affect the brains and bodies of the astronauts.
— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) December 15, 2015
Onboard the space station, Major Peake and his crew mates will experience 16 sunrises and sunsets every day – perfect for studying body clocks. The research will try to find better ways to manage astronauts’ timetables, ensuring they are alert when needed and able to sleep after their work is done.
He will undergo tests on his skin – which ages faster in space – help develop a computer model for ways to protect people’s skin in space and on Earth. He will also provide a huge amount of data relating to how bodily fluids behave differently in space and conduct experiments using new technologies that may eventually be used during missions to Mars, such as landing crafts and robotic arms.
Good luck Tim!