The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft carried Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko and US and UK flight engineers Tim Kopra and Tim Peake to the International Space Station (ISS) on 15 December 2015, and returned the same crew to Earth on 18 June 2016 (expeditions 46 and 47 to the ISS).
Soyuz TMA-19M is the first human-rated, flown spacecraft in the Science Museum Group Collection. The module weighs approximately 1.5 tonnes and its outer surfaces have been charred by temperatures of around 1,500 degrees Celsius - experienced during atmospheric re-entry. It goes on permanent display at the Science Museum after attracting 1.3 million people while touring venues in Bradford, Shildon, York, Manchester, Edinburgh, Peterborough, Cardiff and Belfast, on the National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft presented by Samsung and the Science Museum Group.
Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group says: “The tour of Tim Peake’s spacecraft to museums in all four corners of the UK has been a testament to the power of culture to inspire. With Russian, European and UK space ingenuity all contributing to the success of Tim’s mission, the importance of international collaboration in achieving progress for us all is more starkly obvious than ever.”
As the world heralds half a century since the successful Apollo manned moon landing, the Soyuz has been joined on display at the Science Museum by the original Apollo 10 command module simulator console; a key object in NASA’s contribution to the space race, and one which has never been seen in the UK before.
On long term loan from the Smithsonian, the control panel goes on display alongside the Apollo 10 command module ‘Charlie Brown’, which still holds the record for the fastest crewed vehicle in history having reached 39,897 km/h during its return to Earth on 26 May 1969. The Apollo 10 mission took astronauts Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford and John Young on two successful orbits of the Moon in a dress rehearsal for the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing which followed two months later in July 1969.
“It’s wonderful how the Science Museum Group and Samsung have come together through this tour to extend the Principia Mission’s impact in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.”, said ESA astronaut Tim Peake. The emergency space suit worn by Peake during his descent to Earth, the Sokol KV-2 space suit, joined the Soyuz TMA-19M on tour, and will go on long-term display at the National Space Centre, Leicester, from this summer.
Also accompanying the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft on tour was the Space Descent VR, a stunning virtual reality journey voiced by Tim Peake himself, enabling nearly 50,000 people to experience in first-person the high-speed descent to Earth from the International Space Station.
The VR experience was produced especially for the Science Museum Group and is powered by the latest Samsung Gear VR technology. It was also incorporated into a three-strand Education Outreach Programme developed by the Science Museum Group and Samsung, which reached over 20,000 students. The Education Programme involved a combination of in-school sessions with the Science Museum Group’s Explainer team, special visits to see the Soyuz, and a bus designed to replicate the setting of the International Space Station with headsets showing Space Descent VR. The bus also visited communities across the UK, welcoming over 21,000 onboard.
The Space Descent VR experience, and an opportunity to try on a replica suit of Tim Peake’s Sokol KV-2 space suit, will be open to visitors this summer at the Science Museum.
The Science Museum will be marking the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing with a dedicated Summer of Space, including the Museum’s biggest ever sleepover: the Apollo Astronights featuring a lunar rover workshop and other special activities. IMAX screenings of Apollo 11: First Steps, which uses never before seen footage that tells the incredible story of the first moon landing, will also be part of the programme.
Other events include a conversation on space travel with Brian May and Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees, a special preview of BBC Two’s new docu-drama 8 Days: To the Moon and Back and a screening of Smithsonian’s Apollo’s Moon Shot film, with a live score by Teeth of the Sea, introduced by former NASA astronaut Wally Funk.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has expressed, “the record number of people who saw Tim Peake’s Soyuz spacecraft highlights how science and space travel continue to inspire us. The tour’s success underlines why we make our world-class culture accessible to everyone in all corners of the country”.