Hundreds of people from around the Midlands will be heading for Millennium Point next Tuesday (15th December) when Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum joins a national network of science centres to celebrate the launch of Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a European Space Agency mission.

The event, which is backed by the UK Space Agency, will see Thinktank become the Midlands version of Ground Control, with a live screening of the launch of his rocket, Soyuz TMA-19M, as he makes the historic journey into orbit.  Tim Peake’s blast off will be screened live from 10.30 am on Millennium Point’s giant Atrium Screen.  

“The International Space Station is in orbit around 254 miles above the Earth, which is roughly the distance from Birmingham to Glasgow or Edinburgh, and he will stay on board for five months as part of the international crew” comments Lauren Deere, manager of Thinktank.  “The European Space Agency has been working closely with schools throughout the country to devise experiments that Tim will carry out whilst he is on board, so this is a hugely exciting time for any child fascinated by the concept of space!”

Following the launch, on 15 December, Thinktank will be hosting a day of space-inspired events and activities, looking at some of the experiments that have been conducted on previous ISS missions and explaining how astronauts carry out day to day activities in the zero gravity environment of the space station.

Visitors to Thinktank will be able to watch the ‘Destination Space Science Show’, an action-packed presentation including supersonic science experiments, rocket building and even launching their own astronauts.  The activities are open to all visitors, with all activities included in the Thinktank admission price.

“We’ll also be encouraging children to give a wave to Tim as he passes overhead on Christmas Eve when the ISS will be visible above the UK around 5.20pm on 24 December – something else wondrous to look out for in the sky this Christmas Eve,” adds Lauren.

The ISS launch day is part of an extensive programme of space-themed activities taking place at Thinktank throughout December, including a fantastic show in the Planetarium which explores the story of the Christmas star (additional £1 charge for Planetarium admission) and an electronic toy-making workshop where visitors can build their own small electronic toy in a technological version of Santa’s workshop!  Another highlight includes an exclusive, star-studded, brunch with Santa experience on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 December.