A pupil from a Croydon school has just had an out-of-this-world experience, meeting British astronaut Tim Peake at a reception in No 10 Downing Street.
Michael Eagling, 15, was invited to the event, hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May, after he had taken part in one the many activities set by the UK’s Space Agency.
Major Peake, only the second Briton to be sent into space, had just returned after a six-month stay at the International Space Station during which time he conducted a space walk, carried out a variety of experiments, and “ran” the London Marathon, weightless while in space.
One challenge set for schools by Peake was the Space to Earth Challenge, which encourged pupils to run, swim, cycle or spacehop the equivalent of the 250-mile distance from Earth to the International Space Station. The fitness challenge focused on helping pupils appreciate why exercise was so important during Peake’s 186-day mission, orbiting round the earth at a speed of 25 times the speed of sound.
Eagling, a Year 10 pupil at Trinity School, competes in the triathlon – the swim, bike, run sport. With his regular training and racing, Eagling readily covered the distance from space to Earth – though perhaps not quite as speedily as Major Peake on his re-entry from the space station in June.
“I was honoured to be invited to the Downing Street reception and proud to represent the Space to Earth Challenge and my sport of triathlon at the event,” Eagling said.
The Downing Street event was not the first time Eagling had met Peake. The schoolboy had travelled to the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne last month an observed the astronaut as he undertook his post‐flight rehabilitation.
Eagling was also able to compare notes with Peake about their shared London Marathon experiences: the teenager had run in the London Mini-Marathon on the same day, and supported Team Astronaut who were running the London Marathon on earth in astronaut suits.
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