He’s a true inspiration to us all.
That’s the verdict from hundreds of schoolchildren as Westbourne astronaut Tim Peake shared his passion for science and adventure.
Major Peake brought to life his remarkable six-month expedition in space to explore the world of science and learn about life at the international space hub at the Guildhall in Portsmouth yesterday (November 2).
And the adventurer’s stellar visit was topped off with a ceremony in which he was awarded an honorary degree, where he had previously graduated in flight dynamics and evaluation in 2006.
His post-flight tour appearance coincided with the UK Space Agency Schools Conference, held at the university to celebrate the work of students inspired by Major Peake’s mission.
Pupils showcased their work at the Guildhall, inspired by Major Peake’s travels, and some got the chance to meet the man himself as they split into groups for presentations and talks about his experiences and their learning.
Lucky students included Olivia Davies from Chichester High School.
In his inspirational talk, Peake described his time in space as ‘the greatest gig in the universe’.
“Every day, we were mostly doing science experiments,” Tim explained.
“One minute, we could be in an EU laboratory, then floating through to a Japanese laboratory and working with protein minerals, then on to a US laboratory.
“We were talking to all of these scientists around the world, there were thousands of scientists supporting work we were doing.”
But he said one of the most magical experiences was taking photos of earth - including the Solent - from the station’s ‘earth window’.
Major Peake said it made him realise we have ‘the most beautiful planet and made me realise how ‘we need to love each other.’
In the evening, he returned to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Portsmouth, from where he graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Flight Dynamics and Evaluation in 2006.
Major Peake said: “Encouraging students to engage with my Principia mission was always something that I had hoped to do - and I am thrilled at the range of different things young people have done to follow my mission.”
The conference, which will be followed by a second event at the University of York, is part of a £3m education initiative following Major Peake’s mission - the largest such project undertaken for an ESA astronaut which has involved a million young people.