Newspaper headlines: Peake blasts off, Star Wars premiere and Thatcher 'garage sale'

Dramatic photographs of the Soyuz FG rocket blasting off from Kazakhstan taking British astronaut Tim Peake and two colleagues to the International Space Station feature in Wednesday's papers - along with images of their welcome on board six hours later.

The Independent records the "textbook launch into a cloudless sky" above the Baikonur Cosmodrome; the Daily Telegraph the tensions as the Soyuz failed to dock automatically at the ISS, forcing the astronauts into a manual approach.

Image copyright EPA/NASA

Schoolchildren clustered around televisions watching the launch, says the Daily Express, will have been inspired to follow in Major Peake's footsteps. The Sun says a "nation was proud".

Life on the ISS, with its sleeping bag fastened to the wall, £13m onboard toilet facilities, and strict diet of dehydrated, frozen or heat-stabilised foods, is examined in the Daily Mirror.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail is among the papers to describe the emotional farewell between Major Peake and his two young sons before the launch.

In a leading article, the Times says Oliver and his brother Thomas will be without their father this Christmas, but can be proud of him. His mission could "prefigure a new chapter" in UK space exploration.

According to the Guardian, the launch represents a pioneering voyage to the stars for an individual and a collective trip down memory lane for those who remember the glory days of the space programme. "Space exploration is a noble human purpose in a space without borders, not one in which national or corporate interests should ever be allowed to plant their flags or weapons," it says.


'Galactic classic'

It just so happens that Tim Peake is sharing headlines with another space story - but this one is from a "galaxy far, far away". The premiere in Hollywood of the seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, was, in the words of the Daily Mirror, "out of this world".

The screening across three iconic cinemas, reports the Mirror, was greeted with wild applause and cheers.

Image copyright AFP

Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher - the stars of the original 1977 film - all appear in The Force Awakens and the Daily Express reports their appearance on the red carpet drew roars of delight from fans.

The Sun focuses on the film's British star Daisy Ridley.

The film, says the Guardian, "is undoubtedly the cinematic event of the year, if not the decade". With its worldwide box office take predicted to break records, the $4bn (£2.66bn) Disney paid to the film's creator George Lucas in 2012 to buy his company looks like money well spent.

The Times says the premiere was one of the most extravagant in Hollywood history. But it notes the film was already in profit before a single ticket was sold because the producers struck marketing deals on toys and other products ranging from lightsaber chopsticks to a Darth Vader shower head.

Despite Disney insisting on an 08:00 GMT embargo before any review appears, several papers do carry their film critic's take. And the reaction is extremely positive, with the Daily Mail and Independent both giving The Force Awakens four stars out of five. The Daily Telegraph and Times both rate it worthy of five stars, the latter describing the film as the "galactic classic we hoped for".


Eye-catching headlines


Thatcher 'garage sale'

The scenes at a London auction of clothes and artefacts belonging to the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher capture the imagination of the sketchwriters. The sale at Christie's raised more than £3m, with bids for items ranging from a model of a bald eagle - a gift from US president Ronald Reagan - to her blue velvet wedding dress fetching above estimates.

Image copyright AFP

Michael Deacon in the Daily Telegraph describes it as a "roaringly successful sell-off", concluding "I'm sure their former owner would have considered it a fitting tribute".

In the Daily Mail, Robert Hardman thinks it a pity there was no sign of Britain's leading museums at the sale. Still, he writes: "A quarter of a century on from her Downing Street defenestration, the Iron Lady was delivering a spectacular, posthumous masterclass in the market forces which she promoted so vigorously throughout her life."

For the Times, it was a "garage sale", although watching the bids come in from "Maggiephiles around the world" reporter Patrick Kidd was reminded of the voting rounds at the Eurovision Song Contest.

John Crace in the Guardian says the sale, on behalf of Lady Thatcher's daughter Carol, amounted to "selling off the family silver - along with a whole load of other tat... Even the rubbish was selling for 10 times its estimate".


What the commentators say...

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Media captionThe Wall Street Journal's Middle East correspondent, Margaret Coker, and Reuters business correspondent Tom Bergin join the BBC News Channel to review Wednesday's front pages

Bottled air

The Guardian carries news of a potential record-breaking round the world cycle ride by a former New Zealand speed skating Olympian.

Andrew Nicholson, 45, has cycled around the world in 123 days and, if ratified, his endeavour will beat the current record set by Briton Alan Bate in 2010 by a full two days, it reports.

The part-time gym instructor and primary school teacher set off from Auckland on 12 August and took in the US , Canada, Europe, India, south-east Asia and Australia on his 18,131-mile journey for charity.

Finally, a Canadian start-up company which started bottling fresh air from the Rocky Mountains has reportedly seen sales to China soar because of rising pollution levels.

Vitality Air, based in Edmonton, only began selling to China two months ago, but the Daily Telegraph says it has already sold out of its first shipment of 500 bottles.

A crate containing 4,000 more bottles, each selling for about 100 yuan (£10), is now said to be on its way.


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