Tim Peake blasted off in a rocket heading to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan early Tuesday morning, making history as the first official United Kingdom astronaut. The former army pilot is scheduled to spend six months at the station.
The Soyuz space capsule is also carrying Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and U.S. astronaut Tim Kopra. Peake, who is working with the European Space Agency, is the first official British astronaut but not the first Briton to go into space. Others have done so as private individuals or by taking U.S. citizenship, the BBC reported.
The 43-year-old from Chichester, England, had his wife, Rebecca, and sons Thomas, 6 years old, and Oliver, 4, on hand for the launch from the same pad where, in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin went up as the first human in space. Oliver cried out and said, "I want to go with Daddy," the BBC reported. But as the spacecraft entered into orbit, Peake's loved ones turned jovial. "Wasn't it an amazing sight? I had the biggest smile on my face," Rebecca said, according to the BBC.
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) December 15, 2015
Peake and his colleagues are expected to dock at the International Space Station at 12:24 p.m. EST. That's the schedule if the planned four orbits of Earth and maneuvering toward the station go as planned, according to the Guardian.
The Briton is expected to carry out some 265 experiments during his time at the ISS. He will test technology that could be used for manned missions to elsewhere in the solar system and could affect future missions to the moon and Mars, according to the Independent. He is also scheduled to attempt to run 26.2 miles on the space station's treadmill during the London Marathon in April, a race he has already completed under more typical circumstances.