British astronaut Major Tim Peake poses for photographs next to a spacesuit at the Science Museum in central London on May 20th 2013, where it was announced he will be joining the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2015.
During the second NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon cargo run to the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday morning (March 3, 2013), Canadian astronaut, soon-to-be ISS commander and hugely popular orbital Twitter user Chris Hadfield kept tabs on the Dragon berthing. Here are the stunning views he captured during the successful capture. Here, the Dragon capsule is grappled by the station's robotic arm -- an instrument designed and built by MDA Space Missions for the Canadian Space Agency. "Tonight's Finale: A Dragon, snared and tamed by Canadarm2. Saint George ringing in a new era in the silence of space," Hadfield tweeted. Here are some more views shared by Hadfield with the world via his Twitter account, @Cmdr_Hadfield.
The Canadarm2 awaits the arrival of the Dragon capsule. The robotic arm is the primary component of the space station's Mobile Servicing System (MSS) that was installed in 2001. The Canadarm2 provides support to astronauts on board the station -- berthing spacecraft, providing maintenance services and moving equipment around the station's exterior. "Canadarm2, proud builder of the International Space Station, in preparation for the successful grabbing of a Dragon," tweeted Hadfield.
"Dragon comes into view - first sight this morning, sneaking up on us from behind the Progress solar array," tweeted Hadfield, referring to one of the solar panels of the docked Russian Progress cargo vehicle.
"Self-portrait in the Cupola with rising Dragon below, Africa behind."
As the Dragon approached the space station, there were plenty of photo ops for the astronauts. "The Dragon spaceship high over Mount Etna - both spitting fire," said Hadfield as the spacecraft passed over the east coast of Sicily, Italy.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft over the Sahara Desert before space station berthing on March 3, 2013.
"Like a Praying Mantis, Canadarm2 poised to reach out and grab Dragon."
"Success! Canadarm2 holds Dragon by the nose, to drag it up and hook it on to a Station hatch," said Hadfield via his Twitter account when the Dragon was snared at 5:31 am EST Sunday morning.
A former army helicopter pilot was on Monday named as the first "home-grown" British astronaut to head to the International Space Station.
Major Tim Peake, 41, will fly out to the ISS in November 2015 as part of a six-man crew, becoming the first Briton ever to travel to space on a British government-funded mission.
British-born astronauts have previously gone into orbit as US citizens through NASA, or on privately-funded ventures organized with Russian help.
Peake said it was a "true privilege" to have been chosen from more than 8,000 applicants for the six-month mission.
"The mission to the International Space Station is going to be a wonderful opportunity, not just for Europe and European science but the UK as well," he said at a press conference in London.
Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "a momentous day, not just for Tim Peake but for Great Britain".
"I am sure he will do us proud and I hope that he will inspire the next generation to pursue exciting careers in science and engineering," the prime minister said.
Peake, who will be on board the ISS for six months, has swiftly been dubbed "Major Tim" in reference to David Bowie's 1969 song "Space Oddity", which tells the tale of lonely astronaut Major Tom.
He uses Twitter under the handle @astro_timpeake, and there are hopes he could take over from Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield as the ISS's chief tweeter.
Hadfield, who returned to Earth last week, delighted Twitter users during his six-month mission with spectacular images taken from the ISS and insights into daily life in space.
He even posted a video of himself singing "Space Oddity" as he floated in zero gravity with his guitar.
Peake confirmed that he would be tweeting from the space station, but he added: "I do play the guitar, but very badly, and I wouldn't inflict my singing on anybody."
His tweets would hopefully "encourage a generation to take an interest in space", he told journalists.
During his mission Peake will work on a range of experiments and will potentially have the opportunity to conduct a spacewalk.
The team will lift off to the ISS from Kazakhstan in a Soyuz rocket.
Britain has traditionally refused to get involved in the funding of human space flight due to the huge cost, but its interest in the sector has grown in recent years.
Cameron said Peake's mission was "a great sign of our thriving British space sector, which has seen real growth thanks to our world-class research, and now supports nearly 30,000 jobs".
Helen Sharman became the first Briton in space in 1991, spending eight days at the now-defunct Mir Space Station as part of the Soviet mission Project Juno.
The most experienced British-born astronaut is NASA's Michael Foale, who has completed missions to both Mir and the ISS.