Peterborough said a fond farewell to the Soyuz space capsule last night (Monday) after the ship had spend three months inspiring Peterborough’s next generation of scientists and explorers.
More than 160,000 people have been to visit the ship in the cathedral since it landed in Peterborough at the beginning of August - and last night a small crowd gathered in the historic building to get a last view of the ship, before it is taken on it’s next voyage - this time to Cardiff, rather than outer space.
The capsule had taken British astronaut to the International Space Station - and back to earth - safely with two other members of crew. Along with the capsule, the huge parachute, which allowed a (relatively) soft landing for the crew, and Tim’s space suit, were also on display in the cathedral.
Sparklers were lit in the cathedral cloisters, before hot dogs and burgers were eaten - and a special showing of The Clangers, Mr Benn and The Magic Roundabout was put on in the Cathedral.
There was also a special message from Tim Peake, and some members of the crowd had the final chance to take part in the Virtual Reality experience, which has also been at the Cathedral while the space ship has been on display.
The Very Rev Chris Dalliston, Dean of Peterborough, said the few months the capsule had been at Peterborough Cathedral had been a special time.
He said: “It has been an amazing few months - we have been constantly amazed by how many people have come - people who from Peterborough who have never been over the threshold at the Cathedral, as well as people from across the region.
“People have not just come to observe the capsule, but also encounter the building - to marvel at its architecture, and learn about the stories. They have been struck by the spiritual place we have here - more candles have been lit and prayers said.
“We have proved that science and faith are not opposed to each other, but they are complimentary - The full human experience involves the heart, the brain and the soul.”
Peterborough Cathedral has been tackling well publicized financial difficulties over the past couple of years - and Very Rev Dalliston said hosting the Soyuz had been a learning experience for the team - as well as providing a cash boost, with the increase in visitors.
He said “We have had more than 160,000 people come through the doors - more than double what we normally get in a year. We have had our eyes opened as to what we can do here. We have learnt a lot about how to stage big events.
“We have a brilliant volunteer team who have offered a lot over the three months.
“This has been a tremendous boost to the financial situation here. “While there is only one Soyuz we could have here, we will be open to other events in the future.
“It is a bitter sweet day to see it go - I am sure there will be a tear shed when it finally leaves.”