How to be an Astronaut !


Christchurch Rotary recently welcomed fellow Rotarian Bill Coombes to the club. He gave a fascinating talk on “how to be an astronaut”. The evening was also enjoyed by some of the clubs Business Partners - from Bennets, Avon Reach and South Coast Marine. Bills talk was focused around one particular person journey to become an astronaut -- Major Tim Peake. Bill started his talk giving a brief resume of Tim Peake’s early life and career within the army. He told the club how Tim Peake was born and raised in Chichester. On leaving school he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before moving to Middle Wallop and joining the Army Air Corp. He went on to fly apache helicopters, became a helicopter instructor and ultimately a helicopter test pilot. By the end of his 17 year army career he had over 3000 flying hours and been promoted to a Major. During this time, he also completed a BSc (Hons) in Flight Dynamics and evaluation at Portsmouth University. Bill then moved on to talk about the selection and training process involved to become an astronaut. He explained that it was on the 19th May 2008 that Tim Peake along with 8413 other applicants applied to the European Space Agency. He became one of six selected having undergone academic tests, physical tests and several interviews. Training included resilience testing, psychological tests, medical training and learning Russian. The Major spent 12 days as an aquanaut living in an underwater laboratory. Time was spent living in caves in Sardinia - this prepared the team for living in extreme conditions, in isolation and learning how to cope in confined spaces such as they would experience on the ISS. To encourage the team to work together they were dropped into the wilderness where they needed to catch their own food to survive and had to find their way back to civilisation. To prepare the team for weightlessness of space they would go up in an Airbus which flew a parabolic flight manoeuvre creating a weightless environment aboard. Initially the astronauts were tied in until they got used to the feeling of weightlessness. The Airbus is affectionately known as the “vomit comet” due to the effect it can have on the trainee astronauts. It took 7 years of training before he finally left earth on the 15th December 2015 for his 6 month tour in the International Space Station. On take-off the rocket generated 422 tonnes of thrust, pulled 4 – 5 g and took 6.5 hours to reach the ISS. Finally, bill talked about what life would have been lie whilst up in the ISS. Tim Peake would work an 8-hour day. During his time on board two hundred and fifty experiments were completed, he was involved in an unplanned spacewalk and had link ups with 10 different schools. He would exercise in space for 2 hours every day but, in spite of that, still lost 40% of his muscle mass and 15% on his bone density by the time he returned. On the 10th June just before his return home Major Tim Peake was awarded, the Companion of the order of St Michael and St George for services to space research and scientific education. He returned to earth on the 18th June 2017 being the seventh British Astronaut.

Guest Speaker picture shows Rotarian Bill Coombes with President Elect Tim Skinner

Business Partner picture shows - Business Partners L - R Danielle - Avon Reach / Rob Bennett (Bennets ) Sam * Lady ( Manager @ Avon Reach) Graham / Danielle's Husband Mike Pincott MPA (Business Partner) Sylvy and (David ) Mike Vincent (South Coast Marine)

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