Science & Environment

Tim Peake mission name pays tribute to Isaac Newton

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Media captionTim Peake: "It is a celebration of science"

British astronaut Tim Peake has named his mission into space after a book by Sir Isaac Newton.

The name he chose - Principia - refers to Newton's book of mathematical principles Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

The book set out the laws of motion and gravity more than 300 years ago.

Over 4,000 people replied to the call to suggest a name for the mission earlier this year, and Principia was suggested 20 times.

In a separate development, five groups of children have come up with ideas for meals the Briton can take into space with him.

Major Peake is due to go to the ISS towards the end of 2015 and spend six months there carrying out scientific experiments.

He told BBC News why he chose the Principia name.

"It is in honour of Britain's greatest scientist, Sir Isaac Newton," he said.

"Not only does it have the link with space and gravity but also it's a celebration of science and that is what the space station is about now and that is what my mission is going to be focussing on and bringing it back to planet Earth."

Major Peake also told BBC News that he is keen for people to be as involved as possible in his Principia Mission.

"It will be fun and exciting to follow," he said.

Image copyright Max Alexander/UKSA
Image caption Tim Peake leafing through the book that changed physics, Sir Isaac Newton's Principia

"There will be scientific principles coming out of it. I'll be doing real science aboard the space station as well as fun science at the weekends."

Viewers of the BBC children's programme, Blue Peter, will be invited to design Tim Peake's mission patch for the Principia Mission in a competition to be launched in September.

Ewan Vinnicombe, editor of Blue Peter, said: "We're thrilled that Blue Peter is giving children this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see their design for Tim Peake's Space Badge, go into space on such an exciting mission.

"We'll be looking for creative, imaginative and original designs inspired by Tim Peake, his mission and space exploration and look forward to receiving some out of this world entries."

It is customary for the public to help choose mission names every time a European astronaut goes into orbit.

Names that reflect an astronaut's nationality are encouraged, but they should also have a wider European flavour, and be easy to pronounce.

Previous mission names have included Marco Polo for the Italian Astronaut Roberto Vittori, and Delta for Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers' flight to the ISS. Delta was an acronym for "Dutch Expedition for Life Science, Technology and Atmospheric Research".

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