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Science Museum Group makes historic acquisition of Soyuz spacecraft used by Tim Peake

The Soyuz spacecraft used by Tim Peake in his Principia mission is to go on display in the UK following its acquisition by the Science Museum Group (SMG).

SMG Director Ian Blatchford signed the landmark acquisition document for Soyuz TMA-19M in the presence of RSC Energia, the craft’s manufacturer and ROSCOSMOS, the Russian Space Agency, marking the 50th anniversary of the first ever unmanned Soyuz flight.

The spacecraft used by the UK’s first ESA astronaut in his historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is set to inspire future generations of space scientists as it becomes the first flown human spacecraft acquired by SMG for the UK’s national space technology collection.

ESA astronaut Tim Peake said: “You do become very attached to your spacecraft because it definitely does save your life. I’m absolutely delighted that my Soyuz spacecraft, the TMA-19M, is going to be returning here to the UK and may serve, hopefully, as inspiration for our next generation of scientists and engineers.

Speaking one year after being awarded the coveted Pushkin Medal by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Science Museum Group Director Ian Blatchford said: ‘Russian ingenuity led to the birth of the space age and today it still plays a critical role, notably in long duration missions to pave the way for the next great leap into the cosmos. It is a great honour to be here to officially acquire the first flown human spacecraft in the Science Museum Group collection, one which allowed Tim Peake to make his historic journey to the International Space Station which we plan to share with the public to help inspire future generations.

The display of this historic object, which carried Peake and his crewmates Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra in Expedition 46/47 to and from the ISS, will build on the success of the Science Museum’s recent Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age exhibition which was visited by 140,000 people in Britain, becoming the Museum’s most successful exhibition ever.  The exhibition was officially opened by the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova with the legendary Alexei Leonov and Helen Sharman taking part in events connected to the exhibition. Cosmonauts subsequently opened at VDNKh in Moscow in June this year where it runs until January 2017.

Vladimir Soltnsev, General Director of RSC Energia, commented: ‘We are very honoured that a flown descent vehicle produced by our corporation will take its rightful place in the collection of one of the most important science and technology museum groups in the world. I would like to hope that this special symbol of Russia will become one of the highlights of the Science Museum Group collection, attracting many new visitors.

To mark Peake’s mission to the ISS on 15 December 2015, the Science Museum welcomed 11,000 visitors to a celebratory day of events, including a live broadcast of BBC’s Stargazing Live which was watched by 3.8 million viewers.

Further details about the display of the Soyuz TMA-19M will be released in due course.

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Notes to Editors

About the Science Museum
As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum's world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. More information can be found at sciencemuseum.org.uk.

About PAO RSC Energia
At the present time, PAO RSC Energia is the leading rocket-space enterprise in Russia, the head organisation in the field of manned space systems. Its efforts are focused on building automatic space and rocket systems (launch vehicles and orbital transfer vehicles); high-tech, multi-use systems to be used in areas other than space.

About ROSCOSMOS

ROSCOSMOS is a state corporation that was established in August 2015 to oversee and implement a comprehensive reform of the Russian space industry. State space corporation ROSCOSMOS ensures the implementation of the Russian government’s space programme and its legal regulation. ROSCOSMOS is also placing orders for the development, manufacture and supply of space equipment and space infrastructure objects. The state corporation is also responsible for international space cooperation and tasked with setting the stage for the future use of results of space activities in the social and economic development of Russia.

About Soyuz TMA-19M descent module

  • Soyuz TMA-19M carried astronauts Yuri Malenchenko (Commander, Russia), Tim Kopra (Flight Engineer, USA) and Tim Peake (Flight Engineer, UK) to the International Space Station on 15 December 2015 and returned the same crew to Earth on 18 June 2016.
  • The crew was part of Expeditions 46 and 47 to the International Space Station.
  • The outer surfaces have been charred by temperatures of  around 1,500 degrees Celsius experienced during atmospheric re-entry.
  • The module weighs approximately 1.5 tonnes.

About the Science Museum Group’s Space Technology Collection
The Space Technology collection is rich in British rocketry and early British and European space science. Significant objects include a Black Knight Gamma 201 engine bay, the R4 Black Arrow launch vehicle (with Prospero satellite flight spare) and the Spacelab-2 X-ray telescope, flown on the Space Shuttle Challenger. Recent acquisitions include the Jet-X telescope, a Eurostar 3000 satellite and an engineering model of the world's first international satellite, Ariel 1. Significant loaned items include an Apollo fuel cell, J2 and RL-10 engines and the Apollo 10 command module. The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft will join the Sokol space suit worn by Britain's first astronaut as representations of the nation's evolving human space flight activities.