Tim Peake hopes his spaceship will inspire a generation

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Astronaut Tim Peake urged humanity to 'protect our planet's future - and hoped his Soyuz space craft could inspire scientists and engineers of the future as a spectacular exhibition was launched at Peterborough Cathedral.

Major Tim Peake was the guest of honour at the Cathedral on Friday night as the display, featuring the capsule that took him to space - and back to Earth, the capsule's parachute and his own space suit were revealed in the 900 year old building.

Major Tim Peake at Peterborough Cathedral

Major Tim Peake at Peterborough Cathedral

Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, he said the contrast shown in the free exhibition between science and religion would give visitors the chance to reflect on the future of planet Earth. He said: "A lot of people associate religion and science together, and the earth from a different perspective, that is why i think it is wonderful to see a capsule like this. It encourages people to think about things, whether you are religious or not religious, but to think about the creation of the universe and our part in it, and where we are going with science, technology and engineering in the future, and our moral obligation to as humanity to protect our planet - all those questions. It is a place where you can reflect on what we are doing and why we are doing it."

The exhibition came to Peterborough after the Cathedral won a national competition to host the capsule during a nationwide tour.

Major Peake said he hoped the exhibition would provide inspiration to all who came to see the display, and give an insight into the punishing journey the craft went through as it traveled into the heavens and back. He said: "I think the purpose of this tour is to enable people to get up close to something that has really been in space, been through the punishment of a launch, spent 6 months orbiting the earth, over 6000 orbits. It has gone through thermal extremes, it has had the radiation, it has had the micro meteorites, and it has had the punishment, you can see the scorch marks of a return, a re-entry to our atmosphere - so for people to be able to come and look at it and see what it is we are building, what we are doing in space, why we are doing it is very inspiring, and it is great because it helps us to educate our younger generations about science and technology, and why it is important and why it can play a real part in today's world."

Tim took off for his mission to the International Space Station in December 2015, and spent six months in orbit.

He said the Soyuz capsule remained very special for him - but Peterborough Cathedral was one of the most spectacular places he had ever seen the ship in.

He said: "I've seen the Soyuz space craft now, I've followed it on a national tour of the UK in several locations, but to see it in Peterborough Cathedral, it is absolutley stunning, I think it is a wonderful contrast, of past and present, but both cutting edge technology of their time.

"It makes you think about what will be around in 900 years time, with the past, present and future, what innovations will we have developed then that will seem to us absolutley incredible, so it is magnificent to see something like this in a place like Peterborough Cathedral.

"One of the most special memories is just sat on top of the rocket prior to launch - you actually have about an hour and a half sat in your seat prior to launch and an awful lot of time to just think about where you are what you are doing and the journey that is about to come, so when I see my seat there I imagine myself sat there on the launchpad waiting for that journey into space, it was a very special moment."