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This winter at National Museum Cardiff, visitors can get close to a genuine spaceship. The Soyuz TMA-19M capsule, the spacecraft that brought British astronaut Tim Peake back to Earth from the International Space Station, has crash landed in our gallery. The free exhibition is part of a national tour presented by global technology company Samsung and the Science Museum Group.

In association with the exhibition, several lucky secondary schools from across south Wales experienced an exciting science show from the Science Museum Outreach team. The Soyuz Rocket Show combined interactive science demonstrations with stunning visuals to explore the physics of rockets and Tim Peake’s spacecraft.

Beginning with take-off in the Vostok Rocket, the show took students along on Tim Peake’s journey to space. They experienced everything, including docking on the ISS and life aboard. Finally it discussed the perilous re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere (which you can learn more about in the exhibition’s Space Descent Virtual Reality Experience). The demonstrations included rockets made from Pringles tubes, screaming jelly babies, dry ice clouds and liquid nitrogen ice cream. And of course explosions. Lots of explosions.

A few weeks later, the schools visited the museum to see the spacecraft itself. They also took part in workshops that explored different elements of space travel. Cardiff University School of Computer Science and Informatics delivered coding workshops using Scratch, while AstroCymru put pupils through their paces by testing skills required to be an astronaut. Finally, we did a session on spacesuit engineering, which developed ways to protect astronauts from both harmful UV radiation and the call of nature! One lucky school even got to meet real-life astronaut Steven Swanson, a retired commander of the ISS.

We hope these experiences will inspire the next generation of physicists, engineers and astronauts. Let's hope that soon we will have Welsh astronauts following Tim into space!

The Tim Peake's Spacecraft exhibition runs until 10th February. Admission is free, Space Descent Virtual Reality Experience costs £6.

Liam Doyle

Learning Facilitator

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