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Tim Peake launch: British astronaut blasts off towards docking with International Space Station - live
British astronaut in orbit as he begins his Principia mission after successful lift-off in Russian Soyuz rocket - follow the latest updates here
By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor and Roland Oliphant in Baikonur
This page will automatically update every 30 secondsOn Off
• Tim Peake prepares for blast off amid fears over \'creaking\' Russian space programme
• Russia blesses its rocket ahead of launch to ISS
• 8 tests Major Peake will undergo in space
• In pics: Major Peake prepares for launch
In Britain? Look up at 5.14pm and see International Space Station
The International Space Station flies over Britain tonight just after Major Tim Peake arrives.
At 5:14pm the station will be visible for three minutes as it travels from west to east at around 35 degrees in the sky. The Principia crew should arrive at the ISS at around 5pm GMT. It takes around 90 minutes to complete docking procedures and open the hatch and then we should see Major Peake floating into the space station at around 6.30pm. A press conference will be beamed from space at around 7pm
Today Nasa released a picture of a \'pale blue dot\' which showed the Soyuz travelling through space. The European Space Agency said the first booster had been fired which will slightly change the orientation of the spacecraft.
View from the International Space Station of the just-launched Soyuz spacecraft Photo: Nasa
The image bears a striking resemblance to the \'pale blue dot\' - a one pixel image of Earth taken by the Voyager spacecraft in 1990.
Earth at one pixel wide taken from Voyager in 1990
Back on Earth crowds gathered at the Science Museum in London to celebrate the launch.
School children pack out the Science Museum in central London to watch Tim Peake\'s launch into space Photo: Nick Edwards/The Telegraph
Missed the launch? Don\'t worry, see it again here
Major Tim Peake blasted off into space at 11.03am this morning in a perfect launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan alongside Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko, the other two crew members manning the Principia mission.
He is Britain\'s first official astronaut, and David Cameron sent a message of support this morning saying that Britain would be \'watching with wonder\' over the coming months.
It will now take him six hours to reach the International Space Station. Don\'t worry if you missed the launch you can see it again here, and check out some of the best images of the morning below:
Kazakhstan alongside Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko, the other two crew members manning the Principia mission.
The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft carrying the crew of Timothy Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Timothy Kopra blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan Photo: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
#Principia launch going smoothly. Four #SoyuzTMA19M engine boosts to catch up with @Space_Station planned. First scheduled for 11:48 GMT
The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft carrying the crew of Timothy Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Timothy Kopra blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan Photo: EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV
The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft blasts off to the International Space Station from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Photo: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters
Photographers take pictures as Russia\'s Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft blasts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
Major Tim Peake (left) blasting off into orbit on board the Soyuz space capsule on his way to becoming the first British astronaut to join the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) Photo: PA
Major Tim Peake blasting off into orbit on board the Soyuz space capsule on his way to becoming the first British astronaut to join the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) Photo: ESA
Thumbs up from Tim Peake as he hurtles upwards Photo: ESA
Tim Peake gestures to his children from the bus taking the astronauts to the launch site Photo: AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky
(From left) Tim Peake, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and U.S. astronaut Tim Kopra walk to report to members of the State Committee prior to the launch Photo: AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky
Tim Peake waves goodbye to his family prior to the launch Photo: AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky
Tim Peake, Timothy Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko wave goodbye before taking off Photo: ESA
All eyes on lift-off as Major Tim Peake blasts off for the International Space Station
Millions of people tuned in to watch Major Tim Peake become Britain\'s first official astronaut, as the mission blasted off without a hitch at 11.03amGMT this morning.
David Cameron Tweeted a picture of himself watching the lift-off from Downing Street, and messages of support flooded in, wishing the crew good luck.
David Cameron tweeted "It was great to watch Tim Peake blast off on his mission to join the International Space Station" Photo: David Cameron
"Wishing you all the best" @sajidjavid\'s message to #TimPeake as he fly’s to the @Space_Station #ScienceIsGREAT https://t.co/FvVg1JKUSn
— Dept for Business (@bisgovuk) December 15, 2015
Major Tim Peake and crew enter zero gravity
The first images of Major Tim Peake entereing zero gravity as he blasted into Earth\'s orbit were beamed back this morning.
The pictures show parts of the Soyuz module floating in the air above the astronauts. The spacecraft entered Earth\'s orbit at around 10 minutes into the flight, 210km off the surface of the planet, and travelling at a speed of 28,000 km/h.
It takes six hours to reach the International Space Station and the craft will make four orbits of the planet before docking. Rendevous and docking are automated but the crew can execute the operations manually in case of an emergency.
Once docked the crew equalises air pressure between the Soyuz and the space station. After removing their flight suits, they open the hatches and move into their new home.
Third stage separation: the gravity indicator floats out of view Photo: ESA
What Tim is seeing now: a view of the computer on board the Soyuz Photo: ESA
David Cameron\'s message to Tim Peake: "On behalf of everyone in Britain, you\'re doing us all proud"
David Cameron sent a video message to Major Tim Peake just minutes after he launched to the International Space Station today saying that everyone on Earth would be watching his mission with \'admiration and wonder.\'
The Prime Minister said: "Tim, I know you have been dreaming of this day for a long time and we will be with you for every step of the way, watching with admiration and wonder.
"So on behalf of everyone in Britain let me wish you the very best of luck. You are doing us all proud"
PM: Tim, on behalf of everyone in Britain, let me wish you the very best of luck. You are doing us proud #TimPeake https://t.co/JvCLSPZJUX
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) December 15, 2015
Major Peake was seen giving a thumbs up from inside the Soyuz module shortly after launch.
LIFT-OFF! Major Tim Peake races into orbit
Britain has officially entered the space race as Major Tim Peake blasted off for the International Space Station in a first step which could eventually see Britons land on the Moon and Mars.
Major Peake, a Sandhurst graduate and former helicopter test pilot, from Chichester, has spent six years training for the six month mission, after answering an internet advert posted by the European Space Agency, entitled ‘Do you want to become an astronaut.’
He was selected from 8,000 candidates who applied from across Europe.
His mission, named Principia after Sir Isaac Newton’s work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which described the laws of gravity, could be crucial to our understanding of life on Earth and beyond. Major Peake is conducting 23 experiments on himself to assess the impact of space flight on the human body, trials which are crucial ahead of a manned mission to Mars.
At 11.03amGMT Major Peake launched into orbit. It takes around 10 minutes to reach orbit and then nearly six hours to reach the International Space Station.
Final countown - Major Tim Peake prepares to launch into space
Major Tim Peake, Britain\'s first official astronaut is just minutes away from launch.
10 minutes to launch. "Final countdown" on speaker in spacecraft. Helmets closed. #Principia @astro_timpeake pic.twitter.com/uaPZuY9Apv
Columbus Control Centre minutes before launch. Ready for #Principia liftoff. pic.twitter.com/CLIrT6G2vW
Rocket nearly fully fuelled and mission control prepares for lift-off
The European Space Agency hsa confirmed that the Soyuz rocket now standing without a service structure attached to it, ready to be blasted into orbit.
Fuelling is still ongoing and launch will take place shortly before dusk falls at the Kazakhstani base, 11.03amGMT.
It will be taking off from the same site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome that Yuri Gagarin left from in 1961.
The International Space Station needs to be over Baikonur around three minutes before launch so that the rocket can easily catch up with the ISS. So just a small problem with delays launch by only a few seconds would mean lift-off would need to be delayed by around 48 hours.
The International Space Station approaches Baikonor Photo: ESA
The Soyuz is currently the only way of getting humans into space after Nasa stopped space shuttle flights in 2011.
#SoyuzTMA19M now standing without service structure ready for liftoff. #Principia pic.twitter.com/yM06E0S12v
How far away is Major Tim Peake going to be from Earth?
The International Space Station is around 220 miles above Earth (354km). It\'s roughly the difference between London and Scarborough.
The @Space_Station is coming up over Baikonur. @astro_timpeake, Yuri & @astro_tim will catch up with it. Launch-15m pic.twitter.com/A93767a7e6
Britain Tim Peake, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (top) and US astronaut Tim Kopra board the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome, prior to blasting off to the International Space Station (ISS) Photo: SHAMIL ZHUMATOV/AFP/Getty Images
(From bottom) British astronaut Tim Peake, U.S. astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko prior to launch Photo: AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov
Major Tim Peak says goodbye to children for six months
Major Tim Peake was forced to say goodbye to his children Oliver, 4, and Thomas, 7, for six months today as he became Britain\'s first astronaut. The former helicopter pilot cupped his hands to make a heart sign, bumped fists, and put is thumbs up as he peered out the window of the bus taking him to launch pad 1 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Major Tim Peake says goodbye to his children ahead of launch Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
Soyuz rocket revealed as service structure retracted ahead of launch
The service structure for the Soyuz rocket has been removed ahead of the launch, as mission controllers confirm everything is going to plan. Major Tim Peake should be blasting off at exactly 11.03amGMT. It will take 10 minutes to reach orbit and six hours to reach the International Space Station
#SoyuzTMA19M service structure retracting. #Principia launch in 40 minutes. #GoodLuckTim pic.twitter.com/j4vjGwx8oo
Inside the spacecraft, American Tim Kopra is sitting in the centre seat, with Major Peake in the seat to his right and Russian Yuri Malenchenko in the left-hand seat.
Tim Peake inside Soyuz as the spacecraft is checked for leaks before launch Photo: ESA
Major Tim Peake waits for blast off listening to Queen\'s \'Don\'t Stop Me Now\'
With less than an hour to go before blast off, Major Tim Peake will be calming his nerves by listerning to his favourite songs. Astronauts are allowed three choices of music, and Major Peake has chosen Queen\'s Don\'t Stop Me Now, U2\'s Beautiful Day, and Coldplay\'s A Sky Full Of Stars.
Astronauts now listening to @astro_timpeake\'s choice of music @QueenWillRock as they wait for #principia launch. #spacerocks
Major Tim Peake makes a heart sign to his sons Thomas and Oliver as he prepares to leave for the launch pad Photo: AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky
Crew are strapping themselves in and have put their gloves on. 45 minutes to launch. #Principia @astro_timpeake pic.twitter.com/bTQLLTcBxv
One hour countdown begins, as European Space Agency confirms everything going well
The European Space Agency says everything is going well ahead of the launch of Major Tim Peake, Britain\'s first official astronaut, to the International Space Station
Watching the build-up to the launch from the Science Museum in London were Professor Brian Cox and comedian Dara O\'Briain.
Mr O\'Briain told BBC Breakfast: "It\'s a man sitting on top of a giant firework, being fired into space. The very moment of launch, I\'ve been to one myself, is incredible - there\'s a kinetic oomph of that rocket taking off as it punches is way out of the Earth\'s gravity.
Professor Cox added: "If just one or two of the school children here decide to be engineers or scientists or test pilots as a result of this mission, then it\'s going to be worth it."
1 hour to #Principia launch everything going smoothly. pic.twitter.com/Dc1Na2PnaF
David Cameron wishes Tim Peake good luck (sort of)
We\'ve been waiting for a message of support from David Cameron this morning. Instead we got a little cartoon, informing us of the value of the mission to the \'global space sector\', UK science and jobs. Way to take the fun out a really exciting space launch. I feel slightly deflated. Thanks Dave.
As @astro_timpeake prepares for launch, UK\'s National Space Policy is published https://t.co/s8GsJ0gWV1 #GoodLuckTim pic.twitter.com/c7vVqulcqG
Happily, Elton John was on hand to cheer us back up
From one Rocket Man to another, good luck @astro_timpeake with your launch and mission! #Principia #spacerocks
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) December 15, 2015
How long will it take to get to the International Space Station?
After the Russian Soyuz rocket takes off it reaches orbit in less than 10 minutes and then the crew will travel for six hours before reaching the ISS at around 5pm GMT. It takes around 90 minutes to complete docking procedures and open the hatch and then we should see Major Peake floating into the space station at around 6.30pm GMT. A press conference will be beamed from space at around 7pm GMT.
The space station goes around the Earth at 17,500mph (28,164kph) at an average altitude of 220 miles (354km).
But Professor Brian Cox warned that if the launch is miscalculated slightly, it could take about two days to dock.
Interactive: Tim Peake\'s journey to the International Space Station 2
\'It is just fab to get to this point\' Rebecca Peake says goodbye to husband for six months
Rebecca Peake shortly after husband Tim left for the launch pad Photo: BBC
The Telegraph\'s Roland Oliphant has just send in this dispatch from Baikonur just minutes after Major Tim Peake waved goodbye to friends and family:
"Tim Peake is now on his way to board the Soyuz rocket which will blast him into space in just a few hours time.
Major Peake was grinning broadly when he and his crewmates, Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra emerged from Baikonaur cosmodrome building 256 on Tuesday afternoon.
Moving awkwardly in cumbersome white spacesuits, they marched three breast to the centre of the building’s concrete courtyard before coming to a halt in front of the Russia space official who formally asked each man to state his readiness to commence the mission.
With quick nods each of the crew member answered in the affirmative. Turning to give one last wave to the press, well-wishers and of course family members they then boarded the bust that will take them to Baikonours historic launch pad number one, where they blast off at 11.03 GMT.
As the bus pulled out family and friends of all three astronauts crowded around the windows of the vehicle to wave them goodbye. Major Peake’s wife Rebecca, 41, said she was “excited” about the launch.
“It’s great,” she told reporters after the astronauts bus had pulled away.” I can’t wait to see this. This has been a long wait, it’s just fab to get to this point.”
Major Peake won’t see his wife and children, Oliver, 4, and Thomas, 7, again until May. When his six month mission on the ISS ends and he returns to Earth in a capsule that will land where he took off in Kazakhstan."
Tim Peake leaves for launch pad number 1 with Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra Photo: AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky
.@astro_timpeake in the #SoyuzTMA19M waiting for #Principia launch as the spacecraft is checked for leaks pic.twitter.com/78RwuOFDXh
A Briton heading into space appears to have captured the imagination of the world, and #BritInSpace is now the top trending hashtag on Twitter.
The European Space Agency has just tweeted the latest picture of the crew inside the Soyuz spacecraft. It\'s pretty cramped. And they just have to sit there till 11am. So not unlike the London commute.
Major Tim Peake faces a miserable two hour wait inside the Soyuz Photo: ESA
Look closely beneath Google\'s search bar today and you\'ll see a message of good luck for our man in space Tim Peake. Go on, hit that button.
This is causing a lot of confusion. Major Peake is Britain\'s first official astronaut. Emphasis on the official. This is the first time that Britain has been officially represented in space and the first time a Brit has ever set foot on the International Space Station.
Helen Sharman was the first Briton in space in 1991 when she flew to the Mir Space Station. Oddly though, it was because she won a competition so she was essentially a space tourist. Michael Foale, who was born in Lincolnshire, took US citizenship and flew six missions with Nasa, including the 1999 repair of the Hubble Space Telescope. Other Brits with dual nationaility who have flown with Nasa include Piers Sellers, Nicholas Patrick, Gregory Johnson. Other space tourists with British or dual nationality include Mark Shuttleworth, Richard Garriott.
Nigel Wood, Richard Farrimond, Peter Longhurst and Christopher Holmes all trained with Nasa to deliver Skynet satellites into orbit aboard the space shuttle, but none flew.
The first pictures of Major Tim Peake suited up and on his way to the launch pad have just been posted by the European Space Agency.
He is the second engineer and most junior member of the three man crew, which is completed by Nasa’s Tim Kopra and mission commander Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.
Yesterday Major Peake told journalists at his final press conference that it marked a new era for British space travel.
“This isn\'t a one off mission. We have a serious project in the European Space Station to land on the moon, and that is part of an exploration of the solar system that will eventually take us to Mars.”
Major Tim Peake alongside Nasa?s Tim Kopra and mission commander Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko Photo: ESA
#Principia mission starts with the crew taking a lift to their #Soyuz spacecraft 40 m high on rocket. pic.twitter.com/ThbfOOcujO
Roland Oliphant, our man in Kazakhstan (we don\'t get to say that too often) has just called in to say that Major Peake has suited up and has left the main building.
Here is a picture of him earlier today, after leaving his hotel room. He has been in quarantine for the last fortnight to make sure he is not transporting any bugs to space.
His Falcon spacesuit is designed to keep him alive in case of accidents travelling to or from the ISS. It creates a bubble of air around him.
Major Tim Peake is go for launch Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP
Major Tim Peake signs his hotel room door ahead of launch Photo: ESA
So Britain finally sends its first astronaut into space today, as Major Tim Peake makes a giant leap for the UK, blasting off into the history books and allowing Brits across the country to yell \'Come on Tim\' without irony for the first time in a decade.
Everything is looking good for a launch at 11.03am from Russia\'s Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan and Major Peake and over the next few hours Major Peake will be embarking on a number of astronaut rituals, including signing his hotel room door as he leaves for the last time - and urinating on the wheels of the bus which takes him to the launch pad, a curious tribute to Yuri Gagrin, the first man in space.
We\'ll keep you up to date with reaction from around the world and any issues that arise. Failing any problems, Major Peake is expected to arrive at the International Space Station at around 5pm tonight and will finally clamber on board the floating laboratory 90 minutes later, ready for his first press conference from space around 7pm. It\'s going to be a long and exciting day, so stay with us for the journey.
Last tweet before launch - GO for flight! Thanks for all the good luck messages - phenomenal support! #Principia pic.twitter.com/8jbxejHEEe
This is the door I\'ll sign tomorrow before leaving to suit up - recognise any signatures @Astro_Alex? #Principia pic.twitter.com/LJ0tfBt2Jk
ESA astronaut Major Tim Peake will make history when he becomes the first Briton to serve a mission on the International Space Station this morning.
The 43 year-old will launch into space at 11.03am (GMT) on December 15. He will take off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan alongside Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko, the other two crew members manning the Principia mission.
The team is due to spend six months aboard the International Space Station carrying out experiments for researchers and maintenance on the station alongside five other astronauts.
As part of the mission he will do a series of scientific experiments including growing blood vessels and protein crystals and melting metal alloys in a weightless environment.
The mission will last for six months, and he is set to return on June 5th 2016.
The BBC’s Blue Peter programme asked schoolchildren to design a mission patch for Tim and received more than 3,000 entries.
The winning entry was designed by 13-year-old Troy Wood, who explained: “Principia refers to Isaac Newton’s paper on the principal laws of gravity and motion, so I drew an apple because that is how he discovered gravity.
“Plus, Tim Peake is promoting healthy eating as part of his mission - and apples are healthy.”
Fittingly, a stylised space station glints in the apple.
The Soyuz rocket taking Tim into space flies over the UK as the colours of the Union Flag run along the border.
Each ESA astronaut has a mission name and patch, often chosen in a competition held in the astronaut’s home country. In Tim’s case, the entries were reduced to 33 candidates for presentation to an expert panel of judges.
The final decision came down to Tim himself. He had a hard time choosing: “I have been so impressed with the high standard and the number of entries. Wonderful!
“My final choice was not easy to make, but I chose Troy’s design because his patch was simple but included many references to my mission.”
He is married, and has two sons. The former pilot and Sandhurst graduate is a keen athlete, and has completed the London Marathon. He plans to participate in the 2016 race while in space.
Born in Chichester in 1972, he is an experienced aircraft and helicopter pilot who became an Army Air Corps officer in 1992. He served as a platoon commander in Northern Ireland before being awarded his flying wings in 1994.
He served as a pilot and flight commander all over the world, in countries including Kenya, Canada and Germany, before becoming an Apache helicopter instructor. He was selected for test pilot training in 2005 and graduated from the prestigious Empire Test Pilot School at Boscombe Down.
On retirement from the Army in 2009 he worked as a test pilot for helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland. Over his whole career he has completed more than 3,000 hours of flying time.
Astronaut Tim Peake is heading to the International Space Station
Tim Peake has undergone various training missions including a two-week survival course in Sardinia (NASA)
Peake was selected as an astronaut by the European Space Agency in 2009, and completed basic training the following year.
Telegraph article last year he said he was "elated" to be selected from a pool of 8,000 applicants to join the European Astronaut Corps.
He was assigned to the Principia mission in 2013, and has attributed his success to Britain\'s booming space industry and the Government\'s decision in 2012 to participate in the ESA’s human space flight programme.
Tim Peake, Tim Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko during a comprehensive training session at the Gagarin Cosmonauts\' Training Centre in Star City, outside Moscow (AFP / Getty Images)
His preparation has included underwater training in spacesuits to prepare for weightlessness, and food-tasting sessions to prepare him for eating in zero gravity. He has also qualified to carry out spacewalks, which on the Principia mission he will do in tandem with American astronaut Tim Kopra.
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