IT WAS a step into the unknown that Tim Peake had waited for all his life.
And the astronaut’s historic spacewalk had us all glued to our televisions and computer screens as the wonder of technology allowed us to watch it all in glorious detail.
The excitement was massive yesterday in Emsworth and Westbourne, where Major Peake grew up.
Pupils at Westbourne Primary School watched the events unfold throughout the afternoon. Monica Bowen, school secretary, said: ‘The children were fascinated by how quickly it went from day to night while he was doing his space walk.
‘The children also did a spacewalk dance with David Bowie in the mix.
‘It’s been amazing. Our Year 5 pupils built a spaceship in the cloakroom, so if you go in you can climb into what looks like the cockpit of a spaceship. The children have had a lot of fun.’
Sarah Webb, 44, has been good friends with Major Peake and his family for more than 20 years.
The mum, of Racton Road, Emsworth, was captivated by the images she saw beamed back to earth.
She was even watching it on her mobile while she waited for her son in the car on the school run.
‘I’ve been glued to it,’ she said. It’s incredible. You just can’t get your head around the fact you are watching it live and online. He’s going to inspire so many children. He’s very brave. He’s just so well-prepared, and he’s taking it all in his stride.’
Sarah is able to email Major Peake in space and her 10-year-old daughter Jessica e-mailed him a photograph of her class at St James’ Primary School in Emsworth. ‘If he gets time we hope he will take a picture of it in space and email it back to us,’ added Sarah.
Jessica said: ‘It’s really inspiring and an amazing opportunity for him.’
As Major Peake prepared to exit the air lock, one of his colleagues, Commander Scott Kelly, said it was ‘really cool’ to see the Union flag outside.
Major Peake replied: ‘It’s great to be wearing it. A privilege, a proud moment.’
The spacewalk was to repair damaged solar panels on the International Space Station. Major Peake’s mission ended early after a water bubble was detected in the helmet of his American colleague Tim Kopra, so he was on the spacewalkfor four hours and 43 minutes instead of the planned six-and-a-half hours.
However, the primary task of repairing a broken voltage regulator was achieved.