When I visited the Novium Museum in Chichester in the south of England in late March 2017, I was delighted and intrigued at the prospect of a talk to be held there in July. Entitled ” AN EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY ” the speaker was not listed. Could it be Chichester’s most celebrated son, Astronaut TIM PEAKE ?, So I booked…. and waited.
Came the day and it nearly was the man himself, but commitments in Europe prevented it, but fear not …… the speaker was an enthusiastic, talented and innovative colleague of Tim’s. Himself an Aerospace Engineer and Space Educator, John Chinner is compulsive listening and totally involved with the development, implementation and publicity of the technical things we just wonder about. Ever since the first Sputnik circled the earth on that Sunday morning back in 1957, we have gazed at the skies at the prospect of a Space Station in orbit around the globe. Tim Peake was born 15 years after that momentous Sputnik’s first stride into space. . It took another 43 years until the first British European Space Agency astronaut spent six months in space in the long awaited International Space Station and created a sensation with his easy going manner and beautiful photographs.Tim’s book ” Hello, is this Planet Earth? “ ( published by Century in 2016 ) is packed with stunning photographs of the world unknown until Christmas 1968, when Apollo 8 brought back the first photographs of ” ….the Good Earth, ” as Jim Lovell called it. (Helen Sharman became the first British astronaut in 1991, when she joined the Russian MIR space station.)
John outlined the current work of the space industry and an inside view on Tim Peake’s 6 months in space, including some of the dramatic events, when things go wrong. In one incident the water cooling system leaked into the space helmet filling it up with water, causing the space walk to be quickly curtailed.
Looking towards the mission to Mars in 2020, John is working on a ‘ Mars Rover ‘ craft, similar to the Lunar Rover used by the NASA Apollo Moon landing of the 1960’s and 70’s. John proudly displayed his model of the rover, which he also takes to his talks in schools.
After the talk John explained his enthusiasm for his work to me and in particular, his outreach work. Always recruiting staff for the specialised space programmes, he would be delighted if he were able to recruit from qualified candidates, who had been inspired from his work with schools.
The Novium Museum is well worth a visit and easy to find.
The Tim Peake – An Extraordinary Journey runs at the Novium Museum, Chichester ( just to the north of Chichester Cathedral in Tower Street ) until December 2017. NB : Call 01243 – 775888 before your visit, as the exhibition may be closed on Tuesday and Thursdays for learning sessions or some other times.
HOT NEWS – ‘ Astronauts : Have You Got What It Takes ? ‘ BBC 2 from Sunday 20 August 2017. Looks at the exceptional qualities and skills required to become a member of any team living and working in the confines of a space craft, how to cope in life-threatening crisis and how to plan and achieve the task in hand.
Words and photographs : Tony Knight photography & MEDIA 01962 – 852124 firstname.lastname@example.org