Tim Peake spacecraft to touch down at Ulster Museum

Belfast will be final frontier for the national tour of Soyuz TMA-19M, Tim Peake, Samsung and the Science Museum have jointly announced.

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European Space Agency Astronaut Tim Peake, Samsung and the Science Museum Group have today confirmed that the Ulster Museum will be the final stop-off in an extensive UK tour of the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft starting later this month. The National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft and accompanying Space Descent VR have been curated by the Science Museum Group and global technology firm Samsung.

Flight Engineer Tim Peake was one of three astronauts on board the Russian-built Soyuz TMA-19M which flew the team to the International Space Station on December 15 2015 and returned them to Earth on June 18 2016.

The National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft and Space Descent VR will visit various locations across the UK before touching down in Belfast from February to May 2019.

The Space Descent VR is a unique virtual reality adventure using Samsung Gear VR technology which places visitors right at the heart of Tim Peake’s journey from the International Space Station back to Earth.

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI said the tour and VR adventure will attract thousands of visitors from across the island of Ireland.

“The Ulster Museum has grown an international reputation for the quality and diversity of its exhibitions and we are particularly pleased to have been chosen by the Science Museum Group and Samsung as The National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft tour’s final destination of this incredible exhibition and visitor experience. We are particularly delighted that Samsung’s amazing Space Descent VR will be at the Ulster Museum because this adds a dimension to the exhibition which brings visitors close to the space flight experience as lived by the astronauts on the journey home from the International Space Station.”

She added “The exhibition will offer a wonderful opportunity to showcase National Museums’ extensive natural science collections to visitors. We are delighted that we will also be working with the hugely successful NI Science Festival on this exciting project.”

Chris McCreery, Director of NI Science Festival, said “We are thrilled to welcome Tim Peake's Spacecraft and Space Descent VR tour to the Ulster Museum as the centrepiece exhibition of the 2019 NI Science Festival. Tim Peake is a superb ambassador for space exploration, helping to captivate the minds of an entire nation. This tour is a brilliant way for the public to experience Tim’s journey like never before, bringing to life the experiences from his mission to help inspire the next generation of scientists.”

This is the first time that a Science Museum Group object has ever undertaken such a comprehensive tour of the UK, and the venture has a unique twist as one more tour venue will be chosen via a public competition.

Tim Peake said: “It is wonderful to be at the start of another incredible journey for this spacecraft, which took me on a life-changing journey and delivered me safely back to Earth. I’m particularly happy that people up and down the UK now have the opportunity to discover more about my Principia mission and space travel, and that the Science Museum Group – with the support of Samsung – are doing so much to inspire the public and schools in this tour. I’d also urge anyone who wishes to see the capsule land near them to contact their local venues to apply to be the sixth destination.”

Russell Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer of Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland, said: "Samsung has always had a passion for sparking curiosity and lifelong learning in everyone. Most of us have dreamed of going into space and it is our mission to bring that possibility to life. This national tour not only lets people see the Soyuz capsule up close, but the Space Descent VR gives them the most realistic experience there is."

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, said: “This is the first time the Science Museum Group has toured one of its objects around the country, and what better object than the craft that brought Tim Peake safely back from space? I’m particularly pleased that this tour will reach every one of our museums between London and County Durham to inspire visitors of all ages to engage with the science of space exploration.”

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Director of the National Science and Media Museum, said: “This is another giant leap for us as we continue our journey to becoming one of the UK’s and world’s must-see museums. Having Tim Peake here to launch the Soyuz tour is extremely special. The Science Museum Group, Samsung and the European Space Agency have all collaborated to make something unique happen. I’d encourage people to come and see the Soyuz while they can – it’s a very significant piece of space history.”

Launching during the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education, The National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft celebrates the truly global effort behind modern space exploration. Manufactured by RSC Energia for ROSCOSMOS the Russian Space Agency, the Soyuz tells the story of the UK’s first European Space Agency astronaut’s journey to the International Space Station.

It was acquired for the nation by the Science Museum Group in December 2016 and is the first flown human rated spacecraft in the UK’s national space technology collection. Space Descent VR, the stunning virtual reality journey voiced by Tim Peake himself, will accompany the touring exhibition and enable people all over the UK to experience in first-person the high-speed descent to Earth from the International Space Station.

Tim Peake’s spacecraft – complete with its 25-metre parachute – is free to visit at all venues, and Space Descent VR with Tim Peake will be available to visitors aged 13 and over for £5/£6.

7 Space Descent VR launch © Jody Kingzett Science Museum