The spacecraft that transported astronaut Tim Peake into orbit has touched down in Northern Ireland.
The Soyuz TMA-19M capsule, which carried Major Peake to and from the International Space Station (ISS), has gone on display in the Ulster Transport Museum on the outskirts of Belfast.
The capsule still bears char marks on its outer body from its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere in June 2016.
It has been brought to Northern Ireland with its 25-metre diameter parachute and the Sokol KV-2 spacesuit worn by Maj Peake, the UK’s first European Space Agency astronaut, during his high-speed descent home after six months on the station.
Dr Norah Patten, a Co Mayo aeronautical engineer with ambitions to be the first Irish person in space, attended Tuesday’s sneak preview of a display that will open to the public on Wednesday.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing to see that three astronauts in their suits would have fitted inside this,” she said.
“It gives some perspective, I think, on the sizes and dimensions of the crafts.”
Presented by Samsung and the Science Museum Group, the spaceship has been on a UK tour. The Ulster Transport Museum near Holywood, Co Down, is its final stop.
The craft, built by RSC Energia for Russian space agency Roscosmos, was launched on December 5 2015.
It took crewmates Maj Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra to the ISS for a six-month stay.
The display features Samsung’s Space Descent VR experience, which will give visitors the chance to make their own voyage back to Earth using the latest virtual reality technology.
Kathryn Thomson, chief executive of National Museums NI, said the exhibition is expected to attract thousands of people.
“The arrival of Tim Peake’s spacecraft opens a new chapter for the story of transportation chronicled at the museum,” she said.
“The exhibition will enhance our visitors’ experience by complementing the extensive collection of transport exhibits we have on display.
“The craft itself represents the very best in human ingenuity and feats of engineering, a historical narrative which is charted throughout the Ulster Transport Museum through a rich collection which showcases the innovation and feats of engineering of people from this part of the world.”
Director of the Science Museum Group, Sir Ian Blatchford, said: “It is rare to see the star objects in Britain’s great museum collections touring the length and breadth of the country. I am thrilled that so many thousands of people have had the opportunity to see this extraordinary artefact of recent space history on its tour to date.”
Linda Nolan from Samsung Ireland said: “We’re excited to be working with the Science Museum Group and the Ulster Transport Museum to help bring this piece of modern history to life by using technology such as virtual reality. Through this incredible experience we aim to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists.”
The exhibition will remain on display at the museum until Sunday May 12.