An out-of-this-world adventure as astronaut Tim Peake starts the countdown to Manchester Science Festival 2016

Tim Peake selfie with James and Sam at Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

By Simon Donohue

This is how you get young people interested in a career in science.

We were lucky enough to be in the audience as astronaut Tim Peake spoke about his adventures aboard the International Space Centre today.

The British astronaut touched down at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester for a curtain raiser event in advance of the Manchester Science Festival 2016, which kicks off at venues across the city on October 20.

I was there with my son James and his cousin Sam, who were first in the queue for what might literally be described as the “Peake” selfie experience. Thanks to James for the picture.

Eloquent and intelligent, but not in any way patronising, the astronaut provided a rare insight into the world of science and one that wasn’t in any way stuffy. Just as Professor Brian Cox has created fresh interest in watching the heavens from earth, Peake has fired the imaginations of a whole generation of youngsters who would like to visit them.

Of course, there’s a serious business here, with jobs and money at stake. Demonstrating the value of space exploration is vital in these straitened times, particularly now that the UK’s links with Europe are being weakened post-Brexit.

Thankfully, there remain big ambitions. Peake would like to return to space as soon as possible. By 2020, fresh moon missions are expected. Next step is a journey to Mars. If that’s going to happen, and Britain is to play a role, then this type of experience is vital in influencing the next generation of space travellers.

But this was fun too. Peake was kind enough to answer a range of questions from the young audience, including when will he return to space? and how do you get a haircut in space? All of this matters when it comes to young and inquiring minds and there were plenty of them at the Museum of Science and Industry today.

I captured a few video clips – below – with some of Tim Peake’s other insights.

What was on your stereo on the launchpad?

What’s it like to look down on planet Earth?

Were you scared?

Anyone fancy going to Mars?

Tim Peake talks about going into space

Space walk talk