What Does Space Mean To Me? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

What Does Space Mean To Me?

Sci & Tech editor Rachel Taylor discusses her fascination with space, and explains why seeing Tim Peake begin his time on the International Space Station means so much to her.

As an undergraduate in science, I was extremely excited to see Tim Peake set off to the International Space Station (ISS) representing the UK officially for the first time!

I have been intently watching everything from the rocket launch up until the spacewalk. It’s easy to follow all the work going on in the ISS, with a few downloadable apps on Google Play and the App Store. I have a few apps on my phone, one with a live feed of the inside and outside of the so-called “floating laboratory” and another app that tells you exactly where the station is over Earth. You can even set alarms for when the space station is directly above you so that you can see it. I even started following all the crew on Facebook and Instagram. It’s safe to say, I was getting carried away!

I couldn’t help myself: it’s all so interesting! Major Tim Peake is from West Sussex, the same county as me. I later found out that he was a scout in West Sussex as a child, and I am a trained Cub Scout leader in West Sussex. I clung on to these small similarities between mine and Tim Peake’s life in hope that I had something in common with a now famous astronaut. The deeper my obsession went into the ISS and the more videos I watched on space travel, the more I convinced myself that I could do something like that one day…. until the spacewalk that is!

This was one of the most gripping moments of Tim Peake’s space career for me, as Chris Hadfield put it, this was the “second most dangerous thing for an astronaut to do, after the rocket launch”. Up until this moment, I was thinking “Yeah, sure, I could do 7 years of training!”, “Sure, I could sit in a metal box while it’s being propelled into the space”, “Sure, I could survive in a weightless environment”, but I was kidding myself!

'The awesomeness of the space walk with Peake and Kopra out in the darkness by themselves for hours on end shook me back into reality.'
The awesomeness of the space walk with the two Tims (Peake and Kopra) out in the darkness by themselves for hours on end shook me back into reality. There was no way I could possibly do that! The bravery and stress management involved in such a difficult task soon came to light in the ‘Stargazing Live’ special on BBC2. Several experts came on the show, informing the audience of all the perils the astronauts face.

This was highlighted when Tim Kopra’s spacesuit started to dangerously fill with water, presumably from the coolant system inside. The danger of the water mixing with the oxygen into breathing air the astronauts were breathing meant they had to cut the spacewalk short, along with my care-free attitude of life in space! When clearer images started to come out of the two Tims in space alone, the fear of being truly alone settled in.

I truly believe that anyone brave enough to go into space should be applauded for their bravery and dedication to science research!

Sci & Tech Editor. Biological Sciences student. Keenly interested in the subjects of plant sciences and genetics. (@Rachel_Taylor95)


28th January 2016 at 9:35 pm

Images from

NASA/Crew of STS-132