Schoolboy meets his hero, astronaut Major Tim Peake
A Chichester schoolboy got the chance to meet his hero when he interviewed Major Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to go to the International Space Station (ISS).
And Mr Peake took time out of his busy day - his last in the UK before he sets off for space - to have a picture taken with the eight year old.
Rufus Knight, a pupil at Oakwood School near Chichester, was given permission to have the day off school so he could go to a press conference at the Science Museum in London and catch a glimpse of his hero.
Rufus asked Tim what his plans for Christmas were aboard the ISS.
“I am really excited to be here,” said Rufus, addressing Tim and the world’s media.
Rufus asked Tim: “I know you have spent years training for this mission, but have you thought about whether Father Christmas will deliver your presents?”
In December, Tim Peake will leave Earth for the ISS, launching in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan.
Mr Peake thanked Rufus for making his way to London for the event, adding: “I’m pleased to see someone from my home town of Chichester this morning.”
He joked it was unlikely his Christmas presents would ‘arrive by reindeer’ but said he would ‘look out the window for any activity.’
Young Rufus has also written to schools in Chichester because he would love to organise a ticker tape parade through the city on Mr Peake’s return in May, 2016 - though this hasn’t yet been confirmed by the astronaut.
Speaking to the Observer afterwards, Rufus was buzzing with excitement.
“I’m a big fan of Tim,” he said.
“I would definitely like to go to space.”
Rufus’ father Andrew Knight has worked with the ESA for some 20 years.
A space systems engineer, Mr Knight worked in Portsmouth before working all over Europe, and was instrumental in developing the Herschel Space Observatory, Rosetta Space Probe and the Soho Space Observatory.
“I have been working with the German space agency DLR, and flew in from Munich last night to bring Rufus here,” said Mr Knight.
“There are quite a few of us ‘space heads’ around Chichester!
“We are desperately trying to get a picture with Tim.”
The pair waited patiently after the press conference to see if Rufus could have his picture taken with Mr Peake - who happily obliged before he set off for more training in Russia.
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