Newton’s Space Saplings have found their forever homes on Earth. The next chapter in the life of these trees is about to begin at the Eden Project, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Brogdale Collections, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, Royal Parks and National Physical Laboratory, Rosliston Forestry Centre and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna.
The final destination of Newton’s Space Saplings has been announced. In a special ceremony at Woolsthorpe Manor. British ESA astronaut Tim Peake handed over the Newton’s Space Saplings to the winners and then planted a Space Sapling in the historic orchard at Woolsthorpe, not far from Isaac Newton’s legendary gravity-inspiring tree.
Seeds from the iconic Flower of Kent apple tree at Woolsthorpe Manor were blasted up to the International Space Station as part of Tim Peake’s Principia mission in 2015. They spent six months floating in micro-gravity as part of the Pips-in-Space project and then landed back on earth in 2016 to be nurtured into young trees.
Newton’s tree, which still bears fruit every year, was said to have prompted Newton to question why the apple fell, leading to his world-changing work around gravity.
The UK Space Agency, the National Trust at Woolsthorpe Manor and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, worked together on the project, launching the competition to find partners at the 4th Gravity Fields Festival in 2018.
He is the first British ESA astronaut, the second astronaut to bear a flag of the United Kingdom patch (the first was Helen Sharman, who visited Mir as part of Project Juno in 1991), the sixth person born in the United Kingdom to go on board the International Space Station (the first was NASA astronaut Michael Foale in 2003) and the seventh UK-born person in space. He began the ESA’s intensive astronaut basic training course in September 2009 and graduated on 22 November 2010.
Upon graduation from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Peake received a short-service commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps on 8 August 1992. He served as a platoon commander with the Royal Green Jackets, and was promoted to lieutenant on 8 August 1994. On 9 July 1997, he transferred to a regular commission, receiving a promotion to captain on 20 August.
Peake became a qualified helicopter pilot in 1994 and a qualified helicopter instructor in 1998, graduating from CFS(H) at the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire. Promoted to major on 31 July 2004, he graduated from the Empire Test Pilots School in Wiltshire the following year, and was awarded the Westland’s Trophy for best rotary wing student. He then served on Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron (RWTES) at MOD Boscombe Down completing trials on Apache helicopters.
Peake completed a BSc (Hons) in Flight Dynamics and Evaluation at the University of Portsmouth the following year. Peake left the army in 2009 after 17 years of service and over 3,000 flying hours to his credit, becoming a test pilot with AgustaWestland.