'Tim Peake effect' at National Space Centre in Leicester

People at the National Space Centre Image copyright National Space Centre
Image caption Hundreds of people travelled to the centre to watch Tim Peake land in Kazakhstan at 10:15 BST

Hundreds of people gathered at the National Space Centre to watch UK astronaut Tim Peake return to Earth.

Many travelled from all over the country to the attraction in Leicester to witness on a giant screen the moment Major Peake's Soyuz capsule landed.

There was a "Tim Peake effect" even before he left for space in December, the centre's Dr Tamela Maciel said.

She said staff had experienced more interest in space because of the British astronaut's involvement.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption After exiting the capsule, Maj Peake said the "smells of Earth are just so strong"

Maj Peake has worked closely with the centre on a number of projects.

Dr Maciel said: "Every moment throughout his journey we've been following him here.

"We've been amazed by the response, people have driven for hours and hours last night, spending the night in Leicester and coming here at 06:00 BST."

One of those visitors was Joel, a young boy from the US, who had stayed with a family in Leicester.

"I'm really excited to be here and it feels right because I followed the mission since it started," he said.

Image copyright NASA TV
Image caption The astronaut made a number of educational videos during his time in space

Staff have been working with a number of secondary schools which have been studying Maj Peake's time in orbit.

The astronaut has also made a number of educational videos in conjunction with the National Space Centre during his six months in space.

A centre spokeswoman said Maj Peake had helped "galvanise" the idea of how space effects our daily lives in terms of engineering, satellite navigation and communications.

Tim Peake in space: Want to know more?

Special report page: For the latest news, analysis and video

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Timeline: How Tim Peake became a British astronaut

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