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Rockets could be landing at a venue near you

Ian Blatchford today announced the shortlist in a competition to find a venue to host Tim Peake’s spacecraft as part of a UK-wide tour presented by Samsung and the Science Museum Group.

The Director of the Science Museum Group and Chair of the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC) named the shortlisted venues as part of a commitment to share his organisation’s star objects around the country.

Blatchford also revealed that Stephenson’s Rocket, a world-famous example of British innovation in transport and engineering, will spend much of the next decade at Science Museum Group museums in York and Manchester after its star turn in Newcastle as a highlight of the Great Exhibition of the North 2018.

And the Russia-manufactured Soyuz TMA-19M which took British ESA astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station and back, is today beginning a two-month stay at the National Railway Museum in York as part of a tour that includes museums in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast and one final venue from the competition shortlist.

Ian Blatchford said: “Britain’s national museums are, rightly, increasingly focused on sharing their work more widely through increased programming and digitisation. But it is rarer to see the star object from a collection stray beyond the walls of the major London museums. The Science Museum Group - with sites in Bradford, Manchester, York and Shildon - is well placed to lead the charge. Hundreds of thousands of people will now see world-famous scientific objects in their home city, and I’m delighted at the prospect of some of these experiences coming outside of a traditional museum setting.”

The Soyuz competition shortlist of five public venues around the UK, none of which is a museum or gallery, will be deliberated by an expert panel before the winner is announced at the unveiling of the spacecraft at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester on 9 March.

The panel will choose a winner from The Forum, Norwich; Millennium Point, Birmingham; Peterborough Cathedral; Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Learning and Production Centre, TR2; and Worcester Cathedral.

The expert panel will be chaired by Ian Blatchford and includes the UK Space Agency’s Human Spaceflight Manager Libby Jackson, Samsung’s Brand & Communications Director James Eadie and Magali Vaissiere, Director of the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications.

The winning venue will display Tim Peake’s spacecraft for up to three months in autumn 2018. The Science Museum Group, which acquired Soyuz TMA-19M in 2016, and global technology innovators Samsung, are presenting The National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft and Space Descent VR between September 2017 and May 2019.

The competition also gives the winning venue the chance to host Space Descent VR with Tim Peake, a stunning virtual reality spaceflight experience using Samsung Gear VR technology, which is voiced by Britain’s first European Space Agency astronaut himself.

Tim Peake said: “I’m particularly happy that people up and down the UK now have the opportunity to discover more about my Principia mission and space travel, and that the Science Museum Group – with the support of Samsung – are doing so much to inspire the public and schools in this tour.”

James Eadie, Brand & Communications Director of Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland, said: “We are proud to partner with the Science Museum Group as we share a strong belief that instilling a sense of curiosity lies at the heart of life-long learning. Space and space travel is clearly a subject that inspires curiosity from a young age, and with a sense of wonder that often doesn’t leave us, We are also working with the Science Museum Group in their education outreach programme. With the help of the Tim Peake Space Descent VR Experience Tour Bus, over the next two years a unique training programme will be visiting schools across the UK to engage young people in STEM subjects.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Government Envoy for the Year of Engineering, said: “As we start the Year of Engineering – a national campaign to inspire the next generation of engineers – it’s fantastic that this tour will bring families up and down the country face to face with such an exciting feat of engineering. In order to transform perceptions of engineering careers and encourage more young people from all backgrounds to enter the profession, we need to give them direct experiences of engineering achievement. I have no doubt that Tim Peake’s Soyuz Spacecraft will spark the imaginations of many budding engineers, and I’m delighted to see the Science Museum Group and Samsung bringing this opportunity to young people across the country.”


Notes to editors

Shortlisted venues
The Forum, Norwich |
Millennium Point, Birmingham |
Peterborough Cathedral |

TR2, Plymouth | /
Worcester Cathedral |

Soyuz TMA-19M was acquired for the nation by the Science Museum Group in December 2016 and is the first flown human rated spacecraft in the UK’s national space technology collection. Space Descent VR, the stunning virtual reality journey voiced by Tim Peake himself, will accompany the touring exhibition and enable people all over the UK to experience in first-person the high-speed descent to Earth from the International Space Station. The full tour venues and dates are:

National Science and Media Museum, Bradford                       27 September – 19 November 2017
Locomotion, Shildon                                                                       22 November 2017 – 15 January 2018 National Railway Museum, York                                                    17 January – 8 March 2018
Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester                         10 March – 13 May 2018
National Museum Scotland, Edinburgh                                      17 May – 4 August 2018
Competition winner venue                                                            TBC
National Museum Wales, Cardiff                                                  November 2018 – January 2019
National Museum Ulster, Belfast                                                  February – May 2019

Tim Peake’s spacecraft – complete with its 25-metre parachute – is free to visit at all venues, and Space Descent VR with Tim Peake will be available to visitors aged 13 and over for £5/£6. The tour will be accompanied by an outreach programme to engage young people in schools with potential futures in STEM subjects.

About the Science Museum Group
The Science Museum Group is the world’s leading alliance of science museums, welcoming over five million visitors each year to five sites: the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford; and Locomotion in Shildon. We share the stories of innovations and people that shaped our world and are transforming the future, constantly reinterpreting our astonishingly diverse collection of 7.3 million items spanning science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Standout objects include the record-breaking locomotive Flying Scotsman, Richard Arkwright’s textile machinery, Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE computer and the earliest surviving recording of British television. Our mission is to inspire futures - igniting curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds. Each year, our museums attract more than 600,000 visits by education groups, while our touring exhibition programme brings our creativity and scholarship to audiences across the globe. More information can be found at

About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Samsung inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies. The company is redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, digital appliances, network systems, and memory, system LSI, foundry and LED solutions. For the latest news, please visit the Samsung Newsroom at

About the Soyuz TMA-19M descent module
Soyuz TMA-19M carried astronauts Yuri Malenchenko (Commander, Russia), Tim Kopra (Flight Engineer, USA) and Tim Peake (Flight Engineer, UK) to the International Space Station on 15 December 2015 and returned the same crew to Earth on 18 June 2016.
The crew was part of Expeditions 46 and 47 to the International Space Station.
The outer surfaces have been charred by temperatures of around 1,500 degrees Celsius experienced during atmospheric re-entry.
The module weighs approximately 1.5 tonnes.

About Stephenson’s Rocket
Manufactured in 1829 by Robert Stephenson and Company at Newcastle’s Forth Street Works, Rocket won the famous Rainhill Trials in that year to become the fastest locomotive designed up to that point. The Rainhill Trails were held in 1829 by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway to find a new, more efficient form of locomotive. When Rocket’s turn came at the Rainhill Trials it completed the course of 70 miles at an average speed of 13 miles per hour. In their attempt to win the prize of £500 (worth approximately £50,000 today) the Stephensons brought together several innovations with their new locomotive Rocket to improve efficiency and performance. The basic design proved to be ground-breaking and appeared in virtually all subsequent steam locomotive designs.