After six years of intense training and preparation, the nation watched in awe as Major Tim Peake blasted into space.
He launched at 11.03am this morning from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan alongside crew members Tim Kopra of NASA and Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos for a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
And Major Peake’s former physics teacher said he was ‘humbled’ to have had the privilege of teaching Tim.
Mike Gouldstone was Tim’s physics teacher at Chichester High School for Boys from 1986-1990.
“Everyone is proud but I prefer to say I’m absolutely humbled by having the absolute privilege of teaching such a remarkable person as Tim,” said Mike.
“I must be one of the proudest physics teachers in the country at the moment.
“Watching the rocket go up was very, very emotional for me - I was almost in tears watching it, thinking ‘that is our Tim, from our school’.
“He was every teacher’s ideal student - he was great fun to teach, he had a lovely smile, he was very engaging - if you wanted a pupil to do something in the experiments he would be there, waiting and able to partake.
“I think every teacher hopes and prays that they will teach someone who will one day be famous or achieve something great but this is just out of this world that somebody - one of the first British astronauts in space - has been influenced by you in a small way.”
Mike insists Tim’s success is down to those who supported him as a child.
“I just taught him, but really the praise goes to his parents and the people around him when he was little because that’s where the character is formed.
“Tim won this competition because of who he is, not necessarily what he knows, but the man he is and I give great credit to his parents, his primary school teachers and his friends and relatives who were around him when he was really young.
“He acts and responds very similarly to how he was when he was in the A Level class. It’s remarkable, a very moving time for us all.
“When I found out Tim was going to be an astronaut I thought this is going to be mega because I know people are captivated by the space idea, particularly young children.
“I was greatly moved by the Apollo missions so I just know that youngsters particularly are very, very excited about the space mission and many will go on to study science and engineering because of this.
“Tim’s legacy will be a boost to the UK economy.”
Executive headteacher at Chichester High School for Boys, Yasmin Maskatiya, added: “It’s been a wonderful day here and it was great to see the reactions on the children’s faces when they saw the rocket actually take off - you could see they were really engaged in what this whole enterprise is actually about it - means a lot to students.
“It really has captured their imaginations and they are very inspired by it.
“The CCF has been a real influence in the school over the years - there has been a long history of people going into the air force, into flying, into the forces, and it has been a real vehicle for them being able to go on to do better things.
“I think it’s a really useful way to young people to push the boundaries and expand their ambitions.
“Everybody knows who Tim is and it really comes home to them it’s somebody who went to this school and that has really captured people’s imaginations because they think ‘I can do that’ and whatever dream I have. I can achieve it.
“It’s exhilarating for young people to see this - often heroes are people you don’t know or have no connection with but that’s not true with Tim.”
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