Tim Peake’s spacecraft to touchdown in Plymouth?

Plymouth could be getting a slice of space history – Tim Peake’s Soyuz descent module.

The city bid to be part of the UK tour of Tim Peake’s Soyuz descent module and has today learned Plymouth has been shortlisted to host the spacecraft and parachute.

On 18 June 2016, Tim Peake returned to Earth after six months on board the International Space Station, where he conducted experiments, walked in space and even ran a marathon.

The Science Museum Group acquired the capsule Soyuz TMA-19M and global technology innovators, Samsung, joined forces to create the National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft and Space Descent VR – a virtual reality adventure using Samsung Gear VR technology which enables visitors to experience what it feels like to sit inside the Soyuz’s descent module as it makes its dangerous high-speed journey home.

The group launched a competition to encourage cities and towns to pitch for the chance to host the unique piece of space technology and Plymouth is now one of five destinations left in the running.

Leader of the Council, Councillor  Ian Bowyer said: “This is fantastic news and an out-of-this-world opportunity to inspire and enthuse people of all ages.

“To get this far is an incredible achievement. We have just announced our plans for the future of education and inspiring our young people, particularly in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a key tranche of this. It’s this sort of project that excites people, brings these subjects to life and will encourage young people to reach for the stars.”

Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Plymouth and Chair of STEM Plymouth said: “Plymouth is a growing city with schools, higher education, research activities and high-value, high-skill employment all committed to growing, keeping and attracting high tech talent. This sort of exhibition is a perfect opportunity to show how Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths can lead to something truly stellar.”

Steve Cardrew, chair of the Employment and Skills Board said: “We have a skills shortage in this city and need more of our young people to get excited about these incredibly important subjects. Who knows what this exhibition could lead to?”

TR2 has been named as the main venue for hosting the exhibition, but alternative venues include the University of Plymouth as well as the Royal William Yard. If successful, the exhibition would stay in Plymouth for around three months, with the opening ceremony being held in August 2018.

The aim would be for the exhibition to be open to schools, colleges as well as other education institutions. It would also be open – and free – to the public.

The winner will be announced in March 2018.

The bid has been submitted by STEM Plymouth – which brings together a broad range of organisations to collectively inspire people of all ages to develop skills.The organisation’s aim is that by 2031, Plymouth will be a thriving, innovative international Ocean City with STEM opportunities driving the region’s growth and productivity.

This programme aligns to the Mayflower 400 commemoration, an international moment drawing inspiration from our past to discover our future. Through investigation, innovation and connecting individuals across the globe, an inclusive education programme will encourage generations to understand the need for exploration and discovery, launching the skills to do so.

This is a city-wide collaborative approach with experts from research, education, industry, arts and culture to build a distinct space experience.