British Astronaut Tim Peake Begins Six Month Residence Aboard the ISS

As of December 15, British astronaut Tim Peake began his stay aboard the International Station. On December 15, he blasted off from Kazakhstan on the Soyuz rocket to begin his six month residence on the International Space Station.

According to the British Interplanetary Society, Peake is the seventh UK-born individual to go into space. The first was former chemist Helen Sharman, who participated in the Soviet scientific space mission Juno in 1991. Nonetheless, Peake is making history as the first official UK astronaut. Past British-born astronauts acquired U.S. citizenship, had dual citizenship, or they were space tourists.

American astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian astronaut Yuri Malenchenko joined the International Space Station (ISS) alongside Peake. The three men arrived to the space platform six hours after departing from Kazakhstan, and the astronauts occupying the Soyuz space capsule were greeted by the existing resident ISS astronauts.

The ISS indicated the launched “beautiful” and there were no reported problems at blast off. However, there had been complications earlier with the automatic docking procedure prior to Peake’s arrival, which resulted in a need for the spacecraft to be steered by the Russian commander in order to dock it.

According to BBC’s science editor Paul Rincon, it’s rare for the ISS crew to manually dock the spacecraft because it’s easily regarded as one of the most difficult stages of the journey. However, the skill need to correctly manually dock the spacecraft is exactly Peake and fellow crew were brought aboard, in order to correct a range of other potential failures.

It takes approximately four orbits of the earth and six hours to reach the ISS, which will be home to the crew members for the next few months. Already aboard the craft was NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov, who are approaching the ninth month of the their one-year ISS mission.

Peake, who is a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut with a background as a test pilot and a British Army Air Corps officer, will conduct scientific experiments while living on the ISS. He will also design educational projects, fashioned to attract young people’s interest in science. Peake has been flying since 1994 after completing the army pilots’ course. He became a qualified flight instructor in 1998 and joined the European Space Agency in 2009 after being selected as an astronaut. He’s spent about six years training to become the first professional British ESA-employed astronaut in space.

Peake is temporarily leaving behind his earth-bound wife, Rebecca, who watched the launch from below. Also, his mother, Angela, watched the docking live from a cinema near the launch site. He’s set to return June 5, 2016.