Chichester astronaut Tim Peake made history this morning when he blasted off to space.
And Major Peake has already completed one of his missions - to inspire the next generation of astronauts, engineers and scientists.
It was the moment he’d waited six years for and as his Soyuz rocket left the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the nation cheered as their hero became the first ‘official’ British astronaut to go to the International Space Station.
Watching the action live at Chichester High School for Boys was 13-year-old Libby Connor from Bognor Regis, who said she felt ‘privileged’ to watch Tim make history.
Libby, who is in Year 8 at Chichester High School for Girls, said: “I found Tim a really big inspiration for all of us because if you think about it, he was just an average boy going to Chichester High School for Boys and he’s taken such a big step to be able to go up into space and I think he’s inspired all of us - our school loves him.
“It was really exciting watching the launch because I’ve never seen anything like it.
“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to see a rocket launch and I feel a great privilege to have this in my childhood.
“Tim’s a big inspiration to me and my friends because it shows that what we want to dream of can definitely happen if we go for it.”
Major Peake launched into space at 11.03am alongside crew members Tim Kopra of NASA and Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos for the six-month mission, which will see them carry out a variety of experiments and tests for researchers – while also inspiring a generation of children and young people to engage in science.
Major Peake, 43, was selected by the European Space Agency from a pool of 8,000 applicants in 2009 to become the first British-funded astronaut to live and work on the ISS.
During his time aboard the orbiting laboratory, he will be performing some 265 ground-breaking scientific experiments which can only be carried out in microgravity, including studies into the effects of microgravity on the human mind and body.
The ISS travels at 17,500mph and Major Peake will also carry out research into the processing of new materials for use in future long term space flight, such as voyages to asteroids and Mars.
The crew will also watch the new Star Wars film, which was delivered to the space station just days ago by a Russian Progress resupply ship.
It took the Soyuz rocket less than ten minutes to get into orbit.
After one minute, it was soaring upwards at 1,000mph and crashing through the sound barrier.
There are a number of superstitions and traditions surrounding the take-off procedure.
A Russian orthodox priest walked around the 162ft (49m) high rocket which carried Major Peake into space, sprinkling holy water on its fuselage and boosters and muttering prayers.
The three-man crew also received a blessing before they left for the rocket.
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