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Astronaut Tim Peake talks to King's students from space

UK astronaut Tim Peake made a surprise call from the International Space Station to students during one of their lectures last month. The students spent 15 minutes chatting to Tim via a conference calling facility set up by teaching staff and were able to ask him questions about his experiences travelling into, and living in space. 

Tim is currently six weeks into a 6 month expedition aboard the International Space Station and is the first British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut to visit the ISS.

physiology students speaking to Tim PeakeThe students were attending the lecture as part of the BSc module in ‘Extreme Physiology’ and the MSc programmes in Human & Applied Physiology and Space Physiology & Health. Casey Pruett is the Managing Director of Wyle Labs - a contractor to the European Space Agency and in 2008, he was responsible for recruiting and selecting the cohort of astronauts from which Tim was selected. Casey visits King’s each year as a guest lecturer and in 2011, 2012 and 2013 was accompanied by Tim Peake. As Tim has been in training for the past two years, he has been unable to speak at the lectures but this year, was able to make a call to Casey’s mobile phone from the ISS during the lecture and take questions from students.  

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When asked about the physical adjustment of being in space, Tim described the first 24 hours as ‘a bit rough’ as his body tried to orientate itself and balance the mixed signals caused by the zero gravity environment. However, Tim went on to explain 

‘After the second night’s sleep I woke up and it was just like a switch in my brain had flipped and from that moment onwards I had no problems with any orientation, no disorientation at all, no dizziness and it was almost as if my vestibular system just shut down and my brain said ‘ok, I’m taking eyes only.”   

Speaking about a typical day in space, Tim described how whilst no two days were really the same, due to the number of different activities and experiments that had been planned, the consistent theme was keeping on schedule! You can read more about the experiments being conducted on the Principa Mission website. The full video of the Q&A session with Tim is below (produced by Dory Video).