Satellites and space Contents


On Tuesday 1 March 2016, at Royal Society of Biology’s annual ‘Voice of the Future’ event, hosted by the Science and Technology Committee in Parliament, we received a video message from Major Tim Peake, from on board the International Space Station. Below is an unofficial transcript of that message.

Hello to everybody who’s taking part in today’s Voice of the Future event and welcome on board the International Space Station which is of course the world’s largest research project ever undertaken through international collaboration. Firstly I’m very sorry I can’t join you in person today but I have been handed a couple of questions from the panel which I believe I can address.

Nicola Blackwood, Chair of the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee has asked about the impact of my mission on the wider UK space sector. Well firstly, I’m extremely proud to be part of the UK’s vibrant space sector which is based on 50 years of experience and today delivers excellence in satellite manufacturing, communications, robotic technology, instrumentation and services. Now, in order to continue this success, we need to create opportunities for growth and to inspire our younger generation to gain the skills that they need for the exciting careers that await them in the space sector. The UK’s participation in ESA’s human spaceflight programme has already created new opportunities for UK industry and there’s an exciting future ahead. I believe that in the not too distant future, human spaceflight will become as routine as commercial aviation is today and the UK is well placed to play a major role in developing the capabilities that are needed to achieve this. I hope that my mission will help to show people that it’s not just me who depends on space technology to live and work but it’s all of us. And more and more of it is UK space technology thanks to the work of our industry and the UK Space Agency.

Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, has asked about the life sciences experiments that I’m doing whilst on board. Now many of these focus on understanding more about the body’s aging process and finding ways to counter the negative effects of growing old. For example, last week I conducted several ultra sounds which were to investigate increased stiffness of my arteries due to accelerated aging caused by microgravity. In addition to this, I was investigating changes to my vision and my immune system. And next week I will be involved in an exciting and complex European experiment called ‘airway monitoring’ which is investigating changes to our levels of airway inflammation and this research may also have a direct benefit for asthma suffers back on planet Earth.

As an ambassador for microgravity research in the UK, I’ve seen how universities around the country are starting to take advantage of the unique environment that the International Space Station offers. I can clearly see that the UK is committed to helping to lead Europe through collaborative research and technology development through the European Space Agency. Our contributions to ESA make a real difference to British Industry and to universities but there’s a great deal more that we can do.

I strongly believe that the future of scientific exploration lies in space. My time here on the ISS is paving the way for future missions beyond earth’s orbit, a return to the moon and eventually on to Mars, whilst at the same time conducting research that will benefit humans on planet Earth and also helps us to better understand how fragile our planet is and how it works so that we can take good care of it. Now those missions are probably not for me but instead for those who are studying science and technology today. For example, students at Queens Park Community School or at Wallington High School who are participating at your event today. Of course, as well as the thousands of students that we’ve reached out to as part of our Principia campaign throughout schools around the country. So its been a real pleasure joining you today from 400km above the Earth’s surface and my thanks to the Royal Society of Biology for organising the event. And so from the International Space Station I wish you a successful and enjoyable debate and goodbye.

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

13 June 2016