It is all systems go as the Tim Peake exhibition officially launches today (Thursday) – one year on from the start of the Chichester astronaut’s space mission.
The exhibition at the Novium Museum, Tower Street, has been created over the past six months to give visitors a chance to experience Tim’s astronomical adventure, from growing up in the city to becoming the first British ESA astronaut.
Cathy Hawkes, manager of the Novium, said: “About a year ago we were all inspired when Tim blasted off to space and he has achieved extraordinary things in that time.
“We have been working with Tim Peake’s dad Nigel and the Space Agency – they have been so supportive.
“I hope Chichester people can come and really enjoy it.”
Visitors’ journeys to the intergalactic exhibition will begin by stepping into the museum lift, which has been transformed into the Souyez rocket, before blasting off into the museum’s ‘outer space’ level.
Once in the exhibition, members of the public can learn about the rocket’s take off and landing, and even watch the moment Tim took off into space.
They can also find out what it is like to live in space, including the food, sleeping arrangements and exercising in the International Space Station.
Nigel Peake, who has been closely involved with the exhibition, said: “We have been using the word ‘surreal’ a lot when talking about Tim and it still seems surreal when you look around here now, you think – ‘is this really him? Has he really been into space and back again?’
“We remember when he first called us to say he had applied to be an astronaut, and over a year’s selection process he got down to the final ten.
“Then one day he was told he had to go to Paris and the rest is history.”
Nigel continued: “Looking round this magnificent exhibition we know how much hard work has gone into it. From my point of view it has been great fun, and to get the real space suit Tim wore is amazing.”
Since landing back on earth, Tim has been all over the country, including Portsmouth to receive an honorary degree from the university, however, he has not yet been back to Chichester.
In an attempt to get the much-adored astronaut back to the city, a number of West Sussex schools joined forces to create a video inviting him back to his home county.
Tim’s dad said: “We know Tim is delighted with the exhibition and he has been coming up with ideas for it along the way.
“He cannot wait to come here and see it for himself, but unfortunately at this time his schedule won’t allow it.
“We hope Tim’s message will reach a lot of young people – don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything.”
Students from Peake’s former secondary school, Chichester High School, were equally as impressed with the interactive display at the museum, and spoke of how he inspired them.
William Stephens, who is in the army section of the combined cadet force at the school, said: “The biggest inspiration is the realisation that someone can come from a normal school and become something as incredible as an astronaut.
“It makes you realise you can come from anywhere and do something amazing.”