Tim Peake and Astro Pi winners meet at Rooke Award ceremony

Engineering has always been important, but never more so than now, as we face global challenges and need more brilliant young minds to solve them. Tim Peake, ESA astronaut and one of our Members, knows this well, and is a big advocate of engineering, and of STEM more broadly.

Tim Peake giving a talk at the Science Museum

That’s why during his time aboard the International Space Station for the Principia mission, Tim was involved in the deployment of two Astro Pis, special Raspberry Pi computers that have been living on the ISS ever since, making it possible for us to run our annual European Astro Pi Challenge.

Tim Peake talking about the Astro Pi Challenge at an event at the Science Museum

Tim spoke about the European Astro Pi Challenge at today’s award ceremony

Thank you, Major Tim

Tim played a huge part in the first Astro Pi Challenge, and he has helped us spread the word about Astro Pi and the work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation ever since.

Tim Peake and a moderator in a Q&A at the Science Museum

Earlier this year, Tim was awarded the 2019 Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Award for his work promoting engineering to the public, following a nomination by Raspberry Pi co-founder and Fellow of the Academy Pete Lomas. Pete says:

“As part of Tim Peake’s Principia mission, he personally spearheaded the largest education and outreach initiative ever undertaken by an ESA astronaut. Tim actively connects space exploration with the requirement for space engineering.

As a founder of Raspberry Pi, I was thrilled that Tim acted as a personal ambassador for the Astro Pi programme. This gives young people across Europe the opportunity to develop their computing skills by writing computer programs that run on the specially adapted Raspberry Pi computers onboard the ISS.” – Pete Lomas

Today, Tim received the Rooke Award in person, at a celebratory event held at the Science Museum in London.

Royal Academy of Engineering CEO Dr Hayaatun Sillem presents Tim with the 2019 Rooke Award for public engagement with engineering, in recognition of his nationwide promotion of engineering and space.

Royal Academy of Engineering CEO Dr Hayaatun Sillem presents Tim with the 2019 Rooke Award for public engagement with engineering, in recognition of his nationwide promotion of engineering and space

Four hundred young people got to attend the event with him, including two winning Astro Pi teams. Congratulations to Tim, and congratulations to those Astro Pi winners who got to meet a real-life astronaut!

Tim Peake observes a girl writing code that will run in space

Astro Pi is going from strength to strength

Since Tim’s mission on the ISS, the Astro Pi Challenge has evolved, and in collaboration with ESA Education, we now offer it in the form of two missions for young people every year:

  • Mission Zero, which allows young people to write a short Python programme to display a message to the astronauts aboard the ISS. This mission can be completed in an afternoon, all eligible entries are guaranteed to run in space, and you can submit entries until 20 March 2020. More about Astro Pi: Mission Zero
  • Mission Space Lab, which challenges teams of young people to design and create code to run a scientific experiment aboard the ISS using the Astro Pis’ sensors. This mission is competitive and runs over eight months, and you need to send in your team’s experiment idea by 25 October 2019. More about Astro Pi: Mission Space Lab

If you’re thinking “I wish this sort of thing had been around when I was young…”

…then help the young people in your life participate! Mission Zero is really simple and requires no prior coding knowledge, neither from you, nor from the young people in your team. Or your team could take part in Mission Space Lab — you’ve still got 10 days to send us your team’s experiment idea! And then, who knows, maybe your team will get to meet Tim Peake one day… or even become astronauts themselves!

Tim Peake observes two boys writing code that will run in space as part of the European Astro Pi Challenge