Tim Peake has successfully lifted off on his journey to the International Space Station (ISS), making him the first UK astronaut to head for the craft. He is also the first Briton in space on a publically funded trip.
Peake, alongside Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko and US astronaut Tim Kopra, took off at 11:03am from Kazakhstan and will reach speeds of 17,500mph en route to the ISS.
The journey to the ISS will take around six hours, and once docked and safely on board he will spend six months living some 250 miles above the Earth.
Peake's mission has been named Principia in honour of Isaac Newton, and he will conduct numerous experiments on the ISS, some on behalf of the European Space Agency and others for station partners, chiefly the US and Russia.
These range from experiments on the body and mind, to radiation and space metals and plasma.
Peake's journey to space began at the age of 20 when he joined the British Army Air Corps and eventually became a pilot. He served 18 years in the Army, with tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan and as a test pilot.
He logged over 3,000 flying hours on more than 30 types of helicopter and aircraft, all helping to make him an ideal candidate to go into space and spend six months dealing with the unique and challenging living conditions of the ISS.
Peake is not the first Brit to go into space, though. That honour belongs to Helen Sharman, who was chosen as part of a mission in 1991 funded in part by the former USSR and corporate sponsorship.
As the BBC story at the time noted, getting corporate sponsorship was not easy: "The only sponsors to come forward are Interflora, a watch manufacturer and a cassette tape company.”
No doubt a similar corporate deal would be a lot easier to secure these days.
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