Tim Peake's spacecraft makes landfall at Ulster Transport Museum
THE spacecraft which carried UK astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station (ISS) has touched down at the Ulster Transport Museum.
The Cultra venue is the final stop-off in a UK tour for the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft.
The 1.5 tonne capsule, which still bears the char marks from its re-entry into the earth's atmosphere, is displayed along with its 25-metre diameter parachute and the spacesuit flight engineer Peake wore during his high-speed descent back to earth.
A virtual reality experience, Space Descent VR, voiced by the astronaut, allows visitors to experience his 250-mile return voyage.
Mr Peake, the UK's first European Space Agency astronaut, and crew mates Yuri Malenchenko (Russian commander) and Tim Kopra (flight engineer, USA), were on board the Russian-built craft which flew to the space station on December 15, 2015 and returned to earth on June 18 2016.
The spacecraft was acquired by the Science Museum Group which has organised the national tour in conjunction with electronic company Samsung.
An education outreach programme for post-primary pupils will bring the Space Descent VR experience bus to schools to help young people engage with space and the science and technologies behind space travel.
And running alongside the exhibition, which coincides with the 2019 NI Science Festival, National Museums NI is holding a series of interactive, outreach events and activities for visitors and schools.
Meanwhile, the Ulster Transport Museum is hosting an adults-only, light-hearted evening of scientific experiments, shows and music inspired by the exhibition. LaTe LaB takes place on Friday February 22 from 6.30pm to 10.20pm.
Kathryn Thomson, chief executive of National Museums NI, said the free exhibition, which is expected to attract thousands of visitors, has opened a new chapter on the story of transportation chronicled at the museum.
Linda Nolan, marketing director of Samsung Ireland, said that by using technology such as virtual reality the company aimed to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists.
The exhibition opens today and will remain on display until Sunday May 12.
Tim Peake's spacecraft is free to visit, and Space Descent VR will be available to visitors aged 13 and over for £6.