Sussex astronaut Tim Peake made a quick stop to his home city today to meet pupils from his former schools.
Tim made a special visit today to the Novium Museum, where he was greeted by inspired pupils from Westbourne Primary and Chichester High School to answer their eager questions about his time in the ‘great unknown’.
The ESA astronaut was also able to experience his very own exhibition at the museum for the first time – which is dedicated to Peake’s six-month mission on-board the International Space Station.
Schoolchildren were able to ask a range of questions, including: ‘What was your favourite past time on your mission?’, ‘how fast is the internet in space?’, and ‘what was your funniest moment on the International Space Station?’.
Peake told the pupils that learning Russian was one of the hardest parts of his mission, as all communication in space was in Russian, including all the equipment on board.
When asked how he felt being such a role model to children, he said: “It is really humbling really. Becoming a role model for so many children is something I am hugely proud of and its such a privilege.”
Speaking to the Observer, Tim said: “It feels great to be back in Chichester and especially back in the Novium Museum.
“To come and see the exhibit is fascinating, I think they have done a brilliant job, and also to see some of the school children and answer their questions, it’s been brilliant.
“It’s a little bit like a trip down memory lane, I came on the train down from London today and I cant remember the last time I stood on Chichester train station.”
Peake continued to say that he hopes to ‘inspire pupils to look into STEM subjects’ and to think about how they could have ‘fun and exciting careers’.
Tim continued: “The message I would like to get across to pupils is to enjoy yourself while you are studying and try and work out at an early age what it is you would like to do.
“It is hard, but if you can find that passion and drive that really sets the spark inside of you, that will set you on the course for success.”
It has been reported this week that Tim Peake will be embarking on a second ESA mission to the ISS.
When asked why he said he would return to space ‘in a heartbeat’, Peake said: “Its a very unusual place to go and work and its a huge privilege, its impossible to be in space and not be awe struck by what you see.
“Naturally its a place that most astronauts yearn to go back to.
“But in addition to that the work we are doing on the space station is incredibly rewarding, every day is challenging. It’s a fascinating place to be and work in.”
Peake said the Novium has done a ‘brilliant job’ with the exhibition, and added that the elevator is his favourite part.
“When you’re inside an elevator most of the time they are boring, they just go up and down,” he said.
“This is an elevator that is anything but boring. I can imagine that school children want to go up and down in it all day long. I think it’s absolutely inspired.”
The mayor of Chichester, Peter Budge, offered Tim with an invitation to a ceremony to present him with freedom of the city, the date of which is yet to be set.
When asked if he will be returning to Chichester again soon, Peake said: “At the moment I am based over in Housten still for a few more months so coming back to the UK is hard work but I should be back in Europe come the summer so getting back to Chichester later on this year shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”