Tomorrow, British Astronaut Tim Peake returns from the International Space Station. His Soyuz spacecraft will puncture the atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour, reaching temperatures of over 1600 degrees celsius. All being well, he’ll safely be back on Earth for Father’s day, much to the relief of his wife and two sons. For us here at minifigs.me, this represents something else, too. A spectacular end to a deeply sentimental and remarkable journey, made from LEGO peices.
Not many people know this, but Tim took LEGO with him up to space. Specifically, sixteen custom minifigures. He’d been in touch with us before his launch into space last year, asking that we make minifigures of his fellow crew for him to take up to the ISS. Naturally, we were thrilled to be working with him as we put together minifigures to his specifications over the next few weeks. It was a dream come true, working on something to go into space.
As we neared the end of the project, he asked us to make his family in LEGO too, to make the trip alongside him. At the time, he was training for the journey and as we talked to him about the loved ones he wanted to recreate, I got to talking about my own. I told him about our two beautiful girls and the struggle in getting them here. I told him about the son we lost, whose passing was one of the main driving forces for setting up our business.
As a committed family man, he immediately offered to take my own family in minifigure form too. Taken aback, I tried to understand what this meant for us. One of the minifigures I sent to Tim was personalised for our son Quinn – we’d made it in 2012 for his funeral. It’s one of a pair, with the other placed in his casket. He was going into space, thanks to a man with barely two shoeboxes worth of personal luggage for a six month trip.
It’s hard to express the feelings we experienced when we watched Tim’s launch on the 15th December 2015. Awe, gratitude, pride, respect and admiration as he took our work and some of our dearest memories into space. For the next six months, we watched the stars and knew that we had a special connection and our own part to play in an incredible story. He’s told us that he’ll return them all to us when he gets home – although I think we’d all understand if that can’t be the case.
So as the flames rock his spacecraft tomorrow during brutal reentry, as he is assaulted by unimaginable g-forces, as he crashes back down to Earth and back to his family, we’ll be holding our breath for the man who took it upon himself to personally deliver our son to the heavens.
Have a good Father’s Day on Sunday. It’s a very special day indeed.