A Chichester schoolboy has asked British astronaut Tim Peake to take part in a ticker-tape parade through his home city when he returns from space.
Rufus Knight, 8, a pupil at Oakwood School near Chichester, met his hero at a press conference at the Science Museum in London on Friday (November 6).
Rufus asked Tim if he would be willing to return to Chichester for a parade when he gets back from the International Space Staion (ISS) in May, 2016.
Tim Peake, who was born in Chichester and studied at Chichester High School for Boys, was selected as a European Space Agency astronaut in 2009 and was chosen in 2013 for a mission to the ISS.
On December 15, he will launch in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan, alongside Russian Soyuz commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra for the ‘Principia’ mission.
Tim thanked Rufus for making his way to London for the event on Friday, adding: “I’m pleased to see someone from my home town of Chichester this morning.”
Young Rufus has now written to schools in Chichester to organise a ticker-tape parade through the city on Mr Peake’s return in May, 2016.
Rufus’ father Andrew Knight, a space systems engineer, said: “We asked about the parade and Tim said ‘Yes!’
“Rufus didn’t want to start anything until Tim said he was okay, so now he has the green light.
“Rufus will now contact schools, industry, local government etc (though letters haven’t been sent out yet).
“The UK Space Agency have already indicated they would support such an event and local and national media have shown an interest.
“I have no idea when it will be yet.
“Tim will have a lot of national and international engagements, so they will have to look at their schedules.
“But he still has a fond place in his heart for Chichester and now we all have our chance to come out next summer and meet our local spaceman.
“I really hope local people will join in and offer their help and support, and we hope people will get in touch with Rufus if they want to be involved.
“It should be a celebration of Chichester as well as space.”
Mr Knight added: “Rufus is over the moon. He had a truly memorable day and was buzzing right to the end.
“I have been in the space industry for over 20 years now and know what a great industry it is.
“In all that time I have never known a period when people have been so switched on to space.
“Last year we saw Rosetta and now we have a Brit on the ISS.
“During all this time I have worked right at the sharp edge of things and met some incredibly inspiring people.
“However, at last we have someone in a high profile position who can sit in front of a microphone and speak to the next generation of engineers and scientists.
“Here is a man who has achieved something that seems impossible.
“It has been a wonderful day and I think I have probably met the most inspirational man.
“We should all be very proud of our local spaceman and make sure we all look up on December 15 as he takes to the heavens.”
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