The spacecraft which transported the UK’s first European Space Agency astronaut, Tim Peake, to and from the International Space Station (ISS) has landed at the Ulster Transport Museum.
Presented by Samsung and the Science Museum Group, The National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft includes the Soyuz TMA-19M capsule – complete with equipped interior and char marks on its outer body from its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere – and is displayed along with its 25-metre diameter parachute and the Sokol KV-2 spacesuit Peake wore during his high-speed descent back to Earth.
The craft, which was built by RSC Energia for ROSCOSMOS, the Russian Space Agency, was launched on December 5, 2015 carrying aboard Tim Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra – the crewmates of Expedition 46. It returned to Earth on June 18, 2016 and soon after was acquired by the Science Museum Group.
The exhibition officially opens to the public tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20.
Accompanying the spacecraft is the unique Space Descent VR experience. With the help of Samsung Gear VR technology, Space Descent VR places visitors at the heart of Tim Peake’s historic 250-mile return voyage to Earth from the ISS and is voiced by the astronaut himself.
Samsung and the Science Museum Group will also continue its unique education outreach programme for KS3/4 students with Samsung’s 360° immersive and interactive double decker ‘Space Descent VR experience’ bus going into schools and working with the Science Museum Group in the area to deliver Soyuz Rocket Shows, all geared to help students engage with space and the inspirational science and technologies behind space travel.
Running alongside the exhibition, which coincides with the 2019 NI Science Festival, National Museums NI has a programme to accompany the exhibition including a series of interactive outreach events and activities for visitors and local schools.
Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said the exhibition, which is expected to attract thousands of visitors, is befitting of the Ulster Transport Museum.
“We’re delighted to work in partnership with the Science Museum Group and Samsung to bring the historic capsule to the Ulster Transport Museum for the final stop in what has been, and continues to be, a stimulating and engaging national touring exhibition. The arrival of Tim Peake’s spacecraft opens a new chapter for the story of transportation chronicled at the museum.”
She added: “The exhibition will enhance our visitors’ experience by complementing the extensive collection of transport exhibits we have on display. The craft itself represents the very best in human ingenuity and feats of engineering, a historical narrative which is charted throughout the Ulster Transport Museum through a rich collection which showcases the innovation and feats of engineering of people from this part of the world.”
Director of the Science Museum Group, Sir Ian Blatchford, said: “It is rare to see the star objects in Britain’s great museum collections touring the length and breadth of the country. I am thrilled that so many thousands of people have had the opportunity to see this extraordinary artefact of recent space history on its tour to date. I look forward to seeing the Soyuz capsule on display at the Ulster Transport Museum, where it will give even more people the opportunity to be inspired by and learn more about Peake’s recent space mission.
Linda Nolan, Marketing Director, Samsung Ireland said: “We’re excited to be working with the Science Museum Group and the Ulster Transport Museum to help bring this piece of modern history to life by using technology such as Virtual Reality. Through this incredible experience we aim to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists. Samsung is passionate about inspiring future generations and this is why we’re particularly proud of our outreach work into more than 60 schools throughout the Tour. We look forward to welcoming students from local schools on board our Space Descent VR Experience Bus.”
To celebrate the arrival of Tim Peake’s spacecraft the Ulster Transport Museum will also play host to LaTe LaB, an adults-only light hearted evening of marvellous scientific experiments, shows and music inspired by the exhibition. LaTe LaB takes place on Friday, February 22 (18:30 – 22:20).
Interestingly, Soyuz TMA-19M embarked on a much longer journey from the National Museum Cardiff to the Ulster Transport Museum than its original spaceflight. In 2015 the craft transported the Expedition 46 crew 250 miles from Earth to the ISS. By contrast, the final stop-off on the UK-wide tour involved an over 350-mile trip from Cardiff to Belfast, then onto the Ulster Transport Museum in Holywood.
The exhibition will remain on display at the museum until Sunday, May 12, 2019.
Tim Peake’s spacecraft is free to visit, and Space Descent VR will be available to visitors aged 13 and over for £6.
For more information about the exhibition, visit www.nmni.com/soyuz .