IT was one of those moments in history.

The excitement had been building for some time among those savouring the build up to British astronaut, Tim Peake's mission aboard the International Space Station.

From him donning his special space suit to the launch at 11.03am on Tuesday when the former Army major and helicopter pilot and his colleagues blasted off into space in a Russian Soyuz FG rocket, his movements were watched with anticipation by his nearest and dearest, his family and friends and a global audience including Year 5 and 6 pupils at St Columba's School in Tong Street, Bradford.

For them it was a particularly poignant moment as they, along with thousands of other schools in the UK, will directly benefit from this scientific project which, it is hoped, will encourage youngsters to consider careers in science and engineering.

Launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, 'Rocket Science' is a collaboration between the Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency.

Up to 10,000 UK schools will participate in this nationwide 'citizen science' experiment giving half a million children the chance to learn how investment in human space exploration contributes to our knowledge of life on Earth, using the invaluable expertise of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the RHS Science team.

Rocket science involves 2kg of a cultivar of rocket seeds sent to the International Space Station as part of Tim Peake's six-month Principia mission.

After several months on board, orbiting the planet at 17,000mph, the seeds will be returned to Earth and sent to thousands of UK schools, including St Columba's, along with a batch of seeds of the same cultivar that have stayed on Earth.

Linda Marshall, teaching assistant at St Columba's - which has developed a natural area within the school grounds to encourage youngsters to get growing and nurture nature - explains how the youngsters will grow and compare the seeds to find out any differences which emerge and record their findings.

"It is an observation and we have to feed the information back to the RHS," says Linda.

As well as growing the seeds, Linda says they also hope to create a storyboard and a diary, tracking the seeds on their journey which will link in with the children's literacy studies.

The children will also get the opportunity to write about a seed as a character in space and there will be a competition to design a seed - the winning design may be used as an emblem for the project.

Linda explains the observation, planning and measuring aspect of the scheme links in with the children's scientific studies.

"There is plenty to do and it is building the excitement up as well," says Linda.

She says at this stage they don't know what type of seeds they will receive but they hope to have a mixture of flowers and vegetables.

The school became involved in the project after putting in a mini bid saying what they would do should they be chosen to receive the special seeds.

"It is exciting for us as a school to know that children can really look at something on the television and identify that at some point they will be part of that story and can look back," says Linda.

"It is so exciting and it was exciting to watch," she says, referring to the fact that some of the Year 5 and 6 pupils were able to view the launch.

"It will benefit the children in their everyday studies because you are giving them something and it is something they want to be part of. It is like being part of history. They can see it, it will be theirs and it is something they can take a pride in."

"To be involved in something you know and you are part of makes a difference. It is planting that seed and off they go."

Speaking before the launch, Major Peake said during his six month tour he would be conducting a number of experiments on the International Space Station and he hoped that Rocket Science would inspire the next generation to think scientifically and to consider the fulfilling careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Major Peake is the first Briton to join the crew of the ISS. He is also the first fully British professional astronaut working for a space agency.

Previous "Brits in space" have either had US or dual citizenship or been on privately funded or sponsored trips. Major Peake is employed by the European Space Agency (Esa) and sports a Union flag on his sleeve.