Inspired by Tim: How space inspired a generation

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Credit: UK Space Agency

Today (18 June) marks the fifth anniversary of Tim’s Soyuz space capsule landing in the Kazakhstan desert as he returned from a six-month expedition to the International Space Station.

The UK Space Agency and Tim Peake launched the Inspired By Tim campaign to uncover the impact of his mission. More than 400 people shared their stories of how the mission inspired them, including people who went on to study astronautics or took up stargazing as a hobby; one student shared how they went on to start a career as a rocket engineer.

Tim Peake, British ESA Astronaut, said:

It’s humbling to hear how my mission encouraged people to explore a future in STEM. If it wasn’t for the scientists, aviators and explorers who inspired me when I was younger, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

The space sector in the UK is thriving, and you don’t have to be an astronaut to play your part. There are opportunities for analysts, engineers, entrepreneurs, and environmentalists. I’m looking forward to seeing where the young people who followed my journey are in five years and learning about the positive changes they have made to the world.

Hannah Albery, a teacher in North East England, transformed classrooms into scenes from space for her class of nine and ten year-olds. Hannah’s décor inspired students to study STEM subjects in their further education, and one student is pursuing their dream of one day becoming an astronaut.

Hannah Albery, head teacher at Yarborough Academy, said:

Tim’s mission was a huge experience for our school. We planned a project for Year 5 about relocating to the moon, transformed our classrooms into space scenes, virtually met the Virgin Galactic Team and even visited the National Space Centre.

The pupils who were involved have left our school now. I saw one young man, Ethan, only a few months ago and he now wants to be an astronaut like Tim and is choosing STEM subjects as part of his further education. Tim impacted on a whole generation of people, inspiring them about the wonder and importance of STEM learning.

Tim’s Principia mission led David Honess to change his career. He went from being a software engineer to working in the European Space Agency’s Education Office, where he still works today.

Tim inspired a cohort of students to go on to study STEM subjects at university. Like many others, what Chloe French, a secondary student from London took away from Tim’s mission was the realisation that you can achieve all you set out to do with a little hard work and determination.

During the six-month mission, the UK Space Agency worked with Tim on more than 30 outreach projects, including experiments to grow salad from seeds in space, create imaginative films inspired by spaceflight and exercise like an astronaut. Over two million students took part in the outreach programme, with one in three UK schools participating.

Jenny Horrocks from Surrey was studying a PhD in geology during Tim’s flight and was mesmerised by the photos Tim took of the earth. Jenny was selected at random to speak to Tim on a video call which she is gifting to her old school, while 10 others who shared their stories received a space-themed goodie bag.

Today also marks the closing date of the latest ESA call for astronauts in which UK citizens can apply to become part of the next space exploring cohort. Although an astronaut is just one possible career path in the UK space industry, which employs close to 42,000 people in various roles from aerospace engineers, satellite technicians, research scientists to entrepreneurs and lawyers.

You can read about the people Tim inspired at the UK Space Agency blog.

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