Recently, the UTC Hub team attended the University Technical Colleges Annual Conference 2018 which featured a keynote speech by Tim Peake. After revealing the winners of the UTC Space Tech Challenge finalists, Tim took to the stage to have a chat about his galactic experience.
Following the keynote, Lord Baker described Tim Peak as “an embodiment of UTCs and what our students can be,” and – as a team head-over-heels with the world of STEM – we couldn’t agree more. Following this once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us, we thought we’d condense Peake’s speech into 13 things we learned about him, his trip and space itself.
1. You need intense training pre-lift-off
After a basic education at the European Astronaut Centre, Tim Peake went through two and a half years of training. The training – which took Peake around the world including the US, Japan and Russia – included spacewalking, robotics, all elements of the international space station and lots more.
2. The trip is mind-blowingly fast
The launch sequence took nine minutes, with the rocket eventually travelling 20 times faster than the speed of sound. This speed is necessary to remain in orbit and is so fast that it would be able to take you around the Earth once every 90 minutes.
3. The International Space Station (ISS) is pretty heavy
The ISS, where Peake landed, weighs 400 tonnes. The first crew went on permanently since 2000 and since then there has always been someone working there meaning that since this date, never have all humans been on Earth.
4. Being in the same place for over 180 days isn’t as mundane as you’d think
When being an astronaut in space, the schedule is far from boring and is quite hectic. Monday to Friday Peake worked from 7am-7pm and began each day with a global conference. Throughout the day, Peake would mainly work on scientific activities, but would also need to get involved in maintenance work of the station. Weekends were a bit quieter with Saturdays spent cleaning and on education programmes. Sundays you were able to call friends and family via a weekly video chat, as well as watch movies.
5. Human bodies start to morph into perfect space beings
Peake stressed the importance of keeping fit – not to exist in space, but to be ready for going back to Earth. Without exercising and keeping fit, human bodies begin to morph into “perfect space beings”.
6. Space is even more breathtaking than you imagine
Years after his time in space, Peake still appears stunned when trying to describe how dazzling it is being in space, particularly when he talks about his first time out of the station. He talks about the “beautiful surreality of Planet Earth” and the “freedom of movement”. He also says that “space is the blackest black you could ever imagine.”
7. If you want to be an astronaut, you should start learning Russian
To be able to communicate effectively with colleagues as well as understand documentation, you must learn how to speak and read Russian before you take off.
8. Peake’s favourite place at the space station was a window
In the station was a seven-window observatory, entitled Cupola. Peake said that this was his favourite place to be where you could see different sights and different weather systems within a global context. He talked about seeing continents changing seasons and how during the day you could only see natural beauty, but at night all you see are lights and human habitation.
9. Peake did a load of science experiments in space
When discussing how busy his schedule was in the space station, Peake revealed that him and his team completed between 250-300 science experiments within their 6 months.
10. You can visit Tim Peake’s capsule
When he landed in Kazakhstan after months in space, the real-life capsule he was in will be able to be found in the London Science Museum within the next few months.
11. Spacewalking is the hardest thing about space
Peake described both the physical and mental difficulty of spacewalking. He explained how when he was training for it, he would train for six hours at a time underwater. He also spoke about the difficulties of wearing a pressurised space suit where even bending your fingers was a challenge. It was clumsy work that was “like tying your shoes with gardening gloves on”. Peake also found it hard mentally because of it being so high risk; you are outside the comfort of the space station and rely purely on your spatial and situation awareness.
12. Peake did a marathon in space
After running a marathon in 2000, Peake decided to do the London Marathon from a treadmill up in space and is thinking about doing one on the ground next year.
13. There’s going to be a lot more moon action soon
When asked about where he thinks the space industry will be in ten years time, one thing Peake reckoned was that we’re going to be off to the moon much more and will eventually have permanent habitual sites there.