Chichester spaceman Tim Peake will be returning to space, on a second mission to the International Space Station, it has been revealed.
Exactly when he will be returning is unknown, but the astronaut said he is “hugely excited” by the prospect.
The surprise announcement was made during the unveiling of the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft that took Major Peake into space, which is now on display at the Science Museum in London.
Only last week, the Chichester astronaut made a surprise visit to The Novium Museum (27 January) so he could meet local schoolchildren and view the museum’s exhibition which charts his amazing space mission.
Pupils from his former schools, Westbourne Primary School and Chichester High School were invited to attend the visit and be part of a question and answer session with Tim.
“It’s fantastic to be back here in my home town of Chichester and to be here at the wonderful exhibition at The Novium Museum,” said Tim. “I am absolutely delighted, you’ve done an absolutely wonderful job so thank you so much.
“Mission Principia has been such an outstanding success in terms of the education outreach and myself and the team at the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency have just been so overwhelmed at the wonderful response that we’ve had from everybody around the UK.”
Tim was asked a wide variety of questions by the enthusiastic pupils which included what was the funniest moment in space, what was his favourite button to press, did Brussel sprouts taste any better in space and whether space had good internet access.
He enjoyed a tour of the exhibition with his family and then chatted to volunteers and VIPs before spending time with the pupils and signing autographs.
Chairman of Chichester District Council, Elizabeth Hamilton thanked Tim for his inspirational words and presented him with a specially made charm of the Chichester Cross to take if he returns to space.
Tim’s visit was organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) and was part of a busy week of activity for him including appearing at the Science Museum in London.
Councillor Gillian Keegan, Cabinet Member for Commercial Services at Chichester District Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that this day has been so special. The pupils from both Westbourne Primary School and Chichester High School got to ask lots of questions and Tim gave them an amazing insight into life in space.
“We are so grateful to Tim, his parents and his sister for taking the time out to visit the museum today. We know that all of the pupils here have been inspired by what Tim has said and we are sure that this will encourage them to follow their dreams.
“This exhibition has been fantastic for The Novium Museum. We’ve seen a significant increase in visitor numbers since introducing the exhibition. It’s had great reviews and the best thing is that it is free.”
Museum Manager, Cathy Hakes said: “It’s been a wonderful day and we are so pleased that Tim has been able to visit the exhibition and chat to the schools. It’s been a really inspirational visit and we are very grateful that Tim was able to take time out from his hectic schedule. I’m glad so many people have enjoyed the exhibition and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors.”
The exhibition sponsors Air Products, Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth and Vanderbilt Homes, were also delighted to be part of the day and hear Tim’s inspirational words to the schools.
The UK Space Agency has provided funding for the exhibition, as part of the 2016 Principia Mission Grant Scheme. The UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres Programme “Destination Space” is also backing the exhibition, which also explores careers in space in order to inspire young people to follow in Tim’s footsteps.