THE spacecraft which transported British astronaut Tim Peake to and from the International Space Station, made a perfect landing at York’s National Railway Museum this morning.

The Soyuz capsule, looking a little like a 1960s pressure cooker with windows, was dwarfed by the huge locomotives of yesteryear as it took up its place on the turntable in the museum's Great Hall, with its original 25m parachute.

Pupils from the Mount School in York, who were among the first to see the spacecraft, said they were amazed how small the capsule is.

"I can't imagine what it must have been like with three astronauts strapped in and hurtling to earth in such a small space," said Gracie Houston, 14.

And they loved experiencing with VR headsets the rapid descent of the capsule from the International Space Station back to Earth on a journey narrated by Tim Peake.

Taking selfies in a spacesuit was also a popular opportunity.

The pupils have experimented at school with growing seeds - some that had been into space and some that hadn't.They found that both types of seed grew well and plants can be grown for food in space.

"I would love to make that trip from Earth," said Cecily O'Neill, 14. "But I wouldn't like to live permanently away from home. Just a holiday would be good."

National Railway Museum director Judith McNicol said she hoped the railway and space technology would inspire more young people to get involved in engineering.

“The capsule represents an incredible technological feat, like the railway revolution in the the 1840s with the Rocket locomotive and the railway tilting mechanism in the 1960s.

"We want to inspire children that engineering is multi disciplinary and exciting.

Also at the launch of the capsule visit was MP Stephen Metcalfe, Government Year of Engineering envoy.

He said: "This direct interaction between young people and the capsule helps us change perceptions about engineering, which is what the year is all about."

The Space Descent VR experience, using Samsung Gear headsets, places visitors inside the Soyuz TMA-19M capsule to witness first-hand the incredible 250-mile journey back to Earth from the International Space Station.

Samsung’s director of Brand and Communications UK, James Eadie, said: "Being an astronaut must be the coolest job in the world. It brings out the kid in all of us to experience something of what that is like.

"It is good to take the VR on tour and builds on the immense excitement people have in seeing the capsule."

The museum is hosting daily Soyuz talks and activities while the capsule, now owned by the Science Museum Group, is in York, until March 8, with extra fun activities at half-term.