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Astronaut Tim Peake

Tim Peake returns to Earth from the International Space Station

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To celebrate the safe return of Tim Peake from his mission to the International Space Station.

Preparation and materials


  1. Explain that you would like some volunteers to have a go at throwing the ball into the bucket or bin. Begin by having the target close by, and then gradually move it further away over the course of a few throws. After a few attempts, move the target unexpectedly. After a few more throws, ask the thrower to walk forwards as he or she throws while you move the target backwards.
    Thank the volunteers and ask them to sit down.

  2. Show the images of Tim Peake.
    Ask if any of the children can identify Tim Peake and know why he is in the news at the moment.

  3. Show the image of the International Space Station.
    Explain that Tim Peake was part of a group of astronauts selected to go to the International Space Station in December 2015. Explain that Tim Peake is the first British astronaut from the European Space Agency to live on the International Space Station.

  4. Show the video of the launch of Tim Peake’s rocket in 2015, available at:

  5. While Tim Peake was on the International Space Station, he experienced many challenges. He experienced living with almost zero gravity, which meant that he floated around with no sense of up or down. He ran the London Marathon - on a treadmill in space; he remotely steered an Earth-based robot from space; he was involved in a three-hour spacewalk; he conducted many experiments and he was in touch with schools all over the UK. During his time on the International Space Station, Tim missed being with his family and said that one of the things he was looking forward to back on Earth was the feeling of rain!

  6. Remind the children of the throwing challenge at the start of the assembly. Ask if they can think of anyone who has had to hit a moving target from more than 200 miles above the Earth.

  7. Explain that Tim Peake returned to Earth on Saturday 18 June, but getting here involved a complicated version of the ball and bucket game.

    Show the image of the Soyuz space capsule.

    Give the children the following facts.

    - The ball represents the Soyuz space capsule, and the bucket represents the space capsule’s landing spot on the Earth.
    The Soyuz space capsule starts its journey about 400 kilometres (248 miles) above the Earth.
    The Soyuz space capsule travels at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,400 miles per hour) and ends its journey to Earth at a speed of 0 kilometres or miles per hour.
    The Earth is continually turning on its axis, as day turns to night and back to day.

  8. Explain that, although it was difficult to get the ball in a moving bucket, it is a lot more complicated and dangerous to get the Soyuz space capsule back from space on time and in the right spot!

  9. Tim Peake landed back on Earth at 10.15 a.m. on 18 June, 2016.

    Show the video of the touchdown, available at:

    On his return to Earth, Tim Peake said that the journey back was ‘the best ride Ive been on ever,’ adding, ‘The smells of Earth are just so strong.’

  10. Tim Peake was selected as a European astronaut for several reasons. He had the right experience, a high level of fitness and the right qualifications, but he also had something just as important – the right attitude. He was calm, determined and worked well with other people. These are all good qualities for us to develop in our own lives. If we are in a sports team, a club or in fact in any aspect of our lives in school, teamwork and determination are essential if we are going to succeed.

Time for reflection

Before Tim Peake was launched into space, he gave the following message.
‘After a gap of 24 years since Helen Sharman flew to the Mir space station, the Union flag is going to be flown and worn in space once again. What that means is that theres nothing to stop the schoolkids of Great Britain today from being amongst the first men and women to set foot on Mars in the future.’

Tim Peake is now safely back on Earth.

Two British people - a British man, Tim Peake, and a British woman, Helen Sharman - have now successfully flown in space.

Maybe one day, one of us will go further than either of them, but for now, we can learn a lot from their amazing stories.
What can we do to become good team players?
How can we learn to be calm in a crisis?
Have we the determination to keep going despite difficulties?
Do we do our best in every situation?

Remember: we can start our astronaut training right now!

Publication date: June 2016   (Vol.18 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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