The Soyuz National Tour lands in Manchester

March 16, 2018
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On Friday 9th March, 137 guests attended the launch of the National Tour of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft and Space Descent VR at its fourth tour venue – the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.



Proceedings were opened by Sally MacDonald, Director of the Museum of Science and Industry


Samsung and the Science Museum Group are presenting partners of the National Tour of the Soyuz TMA-19M capsule, which safely returned the European Space Agency’s first British astronaut – Tim Peake – back to earth after six incredible months aboard the International Space Station. As Samsung UK’s flagship CSR programme, the aim of this partnership is to inspire millions of people across the UK by bringing to life the wonder of space travel, sparking a curiosity in life-long learning. To date the tour has attracted almost 200,000 visitors to see the spacecraft alone.


As the Soyuz capsule makes its way up and down the country, Samsung will also transport visitors to space through a new immersive VR lounge, where they will be able to experience Tim Peake’s 400km journey through space thanks to a specially curated virtual reality experience: Space Descent VR, using Gear VR headsets. To date, almost 17,000 people across the UK have followed in the gravity-free footsteps of Tim Peake thanks to the ground-breaking Space Descent VR experience, during it’s time at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, Locomotion in Shildon and the National Railway Museum in York.

SEUK CMO Sam Grant, MSI Director Sally MacDonald and Astrophysicist and TV presenter Danielle George MBE experience Space Descent VR in the bespoke Samsung lounge


Samsung is also working closely with the Science Museum Group on a national schools outreach programme, aimed at engaging young people in STEM subjects. Over the coming six weeks, schools in the Greater Manchester area will be visited by the ‘Space Descent with Tim Peake VR experience tour bus’, designed to look like the ISS. Students will undergo a space training programme and have the opportunity to experience Space Descent VR, inspiring a new generation of burgeoning space explorers.

Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Science Museum Group, interacts with the Samsung spaceman suit up experience on-board the tour bus


The National Tour begins a two-month stay at the Museum of Science and Industry following an extremely successful spell at the National Railway Museum in York, where there were 126,509 total visitors, 31% up on the same period  last year, and 6,203 visitors took part in the Space Descent VR, the highest figures for a venue to date.
Sam Grant, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland, said: “It’s incredible that we’ve brought the Soyuz capsule to its fourth UK city now. There’s clearly an appetite for using technology in ways that transform how we learn, given that so many people are engaging with our Space Descent VR experience. This truly is an unforgettable experience for museum visitors, one that we hope sparks curiosity beyond the day-to-day.

The Space Descent VR with Tim Peake experience tour bus


Astrophysicist, TV presenter and University of Manchester Professor Danielle George MBE, Samsung’s spokesperson for the Manchester leg of the tour, said: “I’m thrilled to be part of such an exciting exhibition. It’s crucial that children have access to these kinds of resources – it expands their education and interest in STEM subjects, and is key to defining the career choices that children go on to make. Samsung and the Science Museum Group will no doubt continue to inspire young people as they take the Soyuz spacecraft around the nation.

Danielle George MBE tweeted her excitement after experiencing Space Descent VR with Tim Peake


At the launch event, Science Museum Group Director Ian Blatchford announced Peterborough Cathedral as the winner of a national competition to host British astronaut Tim Peake’s spacecraft. Peterborough Cathedral was selected from a five-strong shortlist by an expert panel and hopes to attract tens of thousands of visitors during the spacecraft’s visit. It will host its stage of the national tour between August and November 2018, coinciding with its 900th anniversary celebrations this year.


The announcement video can be viewed here.


Ian Blatchford said: “It is rare to see the star objects in Britain’s great museum collections touring the length and breadth of the country. It is even rarer to see a spacecraft in a cathedral. I am extremely pleased that thousands of people from all around the diocese of Peterborough will have the chance to see this extraordinary artefact of recent space history on their doorstep, and I cannot wait to see the Soyuz take the cathedral’s 900th birthday celebrations out of this world when it arrives in August.

British Astronaut Tim Peake congratulated Peterborough Cathedral


Also unveiled in Manchester was the Sokul KV-2 emergency suit, worn by Tim Peake on his Principia Mission, which has been acquired for the Science Museum Group Collection. The Sokul suit joins the tour alongside the Soyuz capsule, and is a celebration of Manchester’s integral role in the development of space suit design in the last half-century.

Tim Peake’s Sokol KV-2 space suit will be joining the Soyuz National Tour from Manchester onwards


Sally MacDonald, Director of the Museum of Science and Industry, said: “I am delighted that Tim Peake’s Sokol space suit is to go on display here in Manchester in its first public appearance following its acquisition by the Science Museum Group, alongside the awe-inspiring Soyuz space capsule. Manchester has a long history of technical innovation, and our unsung hero inventors played a significant role in putting a man on the moon, so I feel it is particularly fitting that we are the first venue for the suit’s tour.


The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft and Sokul spacesuit will be on-site at Manchester’s Museum of Space and Industry until 13th May 2018.


For more info about the Soyuz National Tour, visit the webpage.

To view the trailer for Space Descent VR with Tim Peake, visit the SEUK CSR VR platform.

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