At home in the heavens

Briton Tim Peake, Russian Yuri Malenchenko and American Tim Kopra have been welcomed aboard the International Space Station (ISS), which will be their home for the next six months.

Every orbit of the ISS is different due to drops in altitude – the orbit is adjusted with occasional reboosts. During its orbit, the ISS is between 230 and 286 miles (370-460km) above the Earth’s surface.

Live From Space – see the ISS Tracker – Channel 4

There’s so much about all this that I find profoundly exciting and inspiring, but I’ve been especially tickled this week by Professor Brian Cox reminding the world that, since ISS has been manned continuously since 1999 it has not been possible to say that the entire human race lives on one planet; he hopes that it will never be possible to say so again.

Humankind continues to evolve and grow, aspiring and reaching out to hitherto undreamed of knowledge and possibilities. I’m proud of these pioneers, and grateful to them too. It’s not very long ago that the Wright brothers showed us that humankind could fly. Together with today’s rocketing astronauts they’ve persuaded us that human hopes and aspirations need not die.