The Queen wishes British astronaut Tim Peake well on his mission and a 'safe return to Earth'

The Queen has sent her "best wishes" to British astronaut Tim Peake after he made a historic journey to the International Space Station on Tuesday. The message, which was tweeted by the British monarchy's official account, said: "Prince Philip and I are pleased to transmit our best wishes to Major Timothy Peake as he joins the International Space Station in orbit.

Her Majesty added that she hopes the astronaut's work on the "Space Station will serve as an inspiration to a new generation of scientists and engineers."

The Queen sent her best wishes to astronaut Tim Peake, after he landed on the International Space Station

She added: "The thoughts and prayers of the whole country are with him and the crew, especially at this time of year.

"We join with his friends and family in wishing him a productive mission and a safe return to Earth."

Major Peake is the first British citizen selected as an astronaut by the European Space Agency (ESA) to travel to the International Space Station. Previous British astronauts have either had US citizenship and worked for Nasa or been privately funded.

Tim, 43, thanked fans for support ahead of his six-month mission

One female Brit has been to space. Helen Sharman, a high achieving chemist from Sheffield, became the first British citizen in space after blasting into orbit in 1991 aboard a Soyuz rocket. She spent eight days aboard the Mir Space Station.

She made her historic odyssey as part of a collaboration between the Soviet Union and a number of British companies.

Ex-helicopter pilot Major Peake will conduct experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) over six months. He will also carry out educational activities designed to get young people interested in science.

Her Majesty wished Tim 'a productive mission and a safe return to Earth'

The astronaut left for space – together with fellow crew members American Tim Kopra and Russian Yuri Malenchenko – aboard a Kazakhstan-built Soyuz rocket at 11:03 GMT on Tuesday. They launched from Site 1 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the same pad where Russian Soviet Yuri Gagarin made the first historic human spaceflight in 1961. Tim's wife Rebecca and two sons Thomas, six, and Oliver, four, were among friends and family to wave off the trio.

Ahead of his voyage, Tim revealed his playlist, which features the likes of I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas and Sunday Morning by Maroon5, as well as songs from Muse, Foo Fighters and Counting Crows.