Singed Spacecraft That Carried British Astronaut To The ISS Goes On Show At The Science Museum

By Holly Brockwell on at

The lightly-toasted space capsule that carried British astronaut Tim Peake safely to the International Space Station and back again has gone on display at London's Science Museum.

The Russian-made Soyuz TMA-19M is the first human-rated, actually-flown spacecraft to be acquired by the UK, and the BBC reports that it wasn't a planned purchase:

Museum director, Ian Blatchford, told BBC News that the purchase of the spacecraft was almost like an "impulse buy". He explained that he made a casual enquiry while in Moscow over the summer whether the spacecraft was for sale and to his surprise the spacecraft owners agreed.

If you've seen pretty much any space movie, you have some idea of roughly how terrifying it must be to be fired into space with only a tiny capsule between you and oblivion. The Soyuz measures just two metres and carries three astronauts - which sounds a bit like being catapulted into space in a Ford Ka. The other two occupants were Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and American Tim Kopra. It was, apparently, the first time two Tims have shared a space mission.

The journey between Earth and the ISS sounds pretty brown-trousers in both directions, with the automatic docking system breaking on the way there - Commander Malenchenko had to take over and do it himself - and the capsule tumbling and turning like a penny from the Empire State Building on its way back down. The experience clearly didn't put Peake off, though - it was announced this morning that he will be heading back to space "in the near future."

The Science Museum is hoping the hastily-bought but lovingly-refurbished capsule will inspire future spacegoers, and it's well worth your time to go and see even if you don't live especially near the Kensington museum. The spacecraft's travelled 74 million miles to be here - you can manage half an hour on the train. [BBC, Science Museum]

Image credit: NASA