UK school chat with Tim Peake cut short by technical faults

Tim Peake has used his ISS visit to boost public awareness. Picture: PA

Tim Peake has used his ISS visit to boost public awareness. Picture: PA

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Astronaut Major Tim Peake endured yet more problems contacting home yesterday after a link-up with a school had to be aborted part-way through.

The British space pioneer was trying to speak to pupils at Sandringham School in St Albans, Hertfordshire, via amateur radio from the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday.

The call got off to a slow start due to problems connecting with the ISS. Pupils were eventually able to ask five questions – ranging from queries about liquid hydrogen and molecular forces to whether a helium balloon rises in space – before the seven-minute call was terminated.

The communication, though truncated, meant Sandringham was the first school to make live contact with a British astronaut and the ISS.

But it was the latest in a series of communications mishaps for the celebrated astronaut, who accidentally dialled the wrong number when he attempted to phone home at Christmas.

Maj Peake ended up speaking to a complete stranger, greeting her with the message “Hello, is this planet Earth?” before discovering the recipient was not who he intended.

A week earlier, and shortly after take-off from Kazakhstan, Maj Peake had to leave a voicemail message for his parents when he called while they were out.

Maj Peake’s work in space has won over a new army of fans since his launch from the Baikonur space centre last month.

He has recorded a message to the Queen and performed somersaults during a New Year broadcast.

The 43-year-old former Army Air Corps officer and helicopter test pilot, who was raised in Chichester, is the first Briton aboard the ISS and the first fully British professional astronaut employed by a space agency.

Previous “Brits in space” have either had US or dual citizenship or been on privately-funded or sponsored trips.

Maj Peake – a father of two whose wife Rebecca is from Comrie in Perthshire – is due to take part in his first space walk next week on 15 January to repair a power unit on the outside of the space station. The operation is expected to last around six hours.

He arrived at the ISS on 15 December.

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