ESA mission name for astronaut Tim Peake: Principia

Tim Peake

18 July 2014When ESA astronaut Tim Peake sets off for his six-month space journey next year, he will be flying under the mission name of Principia.

More than 4000 people replied to the call for a mission name earlier this year and Principia was suggested 20 times. The name refers to Isaac Newton’s world-changing three-part text on physics, Naturalis Principia Mathematica, describing the principal laws of motion and gravity.

Famously pondering why apples fall from trees, Newton wrote down the laws of gravity and laid the basis for working with it, a requirement for spaceflight. Tim Peake will spend six months living in weightlessness, the first time a British–ESA astronaut will visit the International Space Station.

“I am delighted with this name that honours one of Britain’s most famous scientists,” Tim says. “I hope it will also encourage people to observe the world as if for the first time ­– just as Isaac Newton did.

“Our planet Earth is a precious and beautiful place and we all need to safeguard it.”

Tim will be launched from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in November 2015 – and will be able to enjoy Newton’s favourite fruit as supply ships arrive at the international space laboratory. One of his aims is to inspire children during his stay in space, in particular by promoting healthy eating.

The International Space Station is first and foremost a place of science, and the six astronauts there spend much of their time working on experiments that cannot be done anywhere on Earth.

It’s a busy time in space for ESA astronauts, with Alexander Gerst currently working in the Station, Samantha Cristoforetti leaving for it in November this year, and Andreas Mogensen being launched shortly before Tim’s mission for a 10-day stay on the Station.

International Space Station
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Tim Peake’s Mission to the ISS named ‘Principia’

I was one of the twenty people that proposed the mission name……

Earlier this week with only one day’s notice, Bryar and I were invited to a champagne (neither of drink unfortunately) reception in London. We attended the event at the Royal Society for the official mission naming ceremony.

I had entered the naming competition with ‘Principia’ as my suggestion. As it turned out 19 others had also done so. Some ten winners were able to attend, we met Tim and had a chat, posed with him for some photos. He promised we would all receive a signed mission insignia from the ISS upon his return.

We also managed to get close up to a display of some of the original notes and letters handwritten by Sir Isaac Newton to create the Principia. An original telescope, Newton’s death mask and some space flown apple tree wood. Photo to follow!

We were sworn to secrecy as the name was to be officially released at the Farnborough Air Show the following evening, however events that occurred in the skies above Ukraine quite rightly took precedence. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of all involved.

Onward and upward for Major Tim.

Astronaut Tim Peake Mission naming reception, Royal Society London. 15/07/14

Astronaut Tim Peake Mission naming reception, Royal Society London. 15/07/14