The National Space Centre is a visitor attraction dedicated to space and is located in Leicester, England, UK. It contains interactive exhibitions, some of Britain’s largest rockets and satellites, a planetarium and the Challenger Learning Centre.
The National Space Centre hosts many exciting weekend events including lots of school holiday specials. It is run as an educational charity and offers science workshops for school children of all ages.
How to get to the National Space Centre?
Car Travel: If your driving from London, it is located off the M1. If you are an international visitor, it is located about 45 minutes drive from Birmingham International Airport. It is off the A6 about two miles north of Leicester City Centre.
Train Travel: You can travel there by train. Midland Mainline and Central Trains serve Leicester station then Bus route 54.
Bus Travel: When you are in Leicester city at Leicester Station, City Centre, use the St Margarets Bus Station on bus route 54 serves.
The centre has six main galleries:
1. Into Space: Covers most space hardware, from the rockets that take probes and humans into space, to the specially packaged food humans can eat during their stay. The gallery also includes a life-size mock-up of the European Space Agency’s International Space Station Columbus module.
2. Exploring The Universe: Covers some interesting topics ranging from black holes to the age of the universe.
3. The Planets Gallery: Covers everything in our Solar System. It houses a real piece of Moon rock, brought back by the astronauts of the Apollo 17 mission and a sizable Martian meteorite.
4. Orbiting Earth: Tells the story of how humans use satellites to improve their daily lives from telecommunication to forecasting the weather.
5. Space Now: Live gallery that brings visitors “today’s news from space”. The gallery hosts live demonstrations and the news desk provides visitors with an opportunity to ask any space-related questions that puzzle them. The gallery is accompanied by Space Now, a space news website.
6. Tranquillity Base: Allows visitors to experience what it would be like to live in a lunar base in the year 2025. Visitors train as astronauts working for the All Earth Space Agency (AESA).
Worth Viewing: The Blue Streak rocket (18.5m long) was built in the 1950’s as a ballistic missile before being used as a satellite launcher in the 1960’s. The Centre also has on display a Soyuz spacecraft. There is also the Space Theatre: an immersive digital theatre and planetarium-style based on Digistar 3 technology.
The National Space Centre hosts the UK Government’s official Near-Earth object (NEO) Information Centre. An exhibition about NEOs can be found in the centre’s The Planets gallery, with sister exhibitions in the Natural History Museum in London, and Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.
When you visit the centre, get yourself a souvenir by checking out their gift shop called Cargo Bay which has a range of goodies. Also enjoy your lunch in the restaurant at the base of the Rocket Tower known as Boosters.
The National Space Centre is the brain child of the University of Leicester. The University, Leicester City Council and Chamber of Commerce submitted a bid to the Millennium Commission for funds in 1997. The Millennium Commission agreed to support the project as its Landmark Millennium Project for the East Midlands.
The building was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and was opened to the public on 30 June 2001. The total construction cost was £52m, £26m of which came from a Millennium Commission grant and the rest from private sector sponsors.
Buzz Aldrin (second man to walk on the Moon) visited the Space Centre in June 2005. Tranquillity Base was opened in July 2005. The first Star Wars Day was held on 30 July 2005.
For Further information:
National Space Centre
Telephone: 0044 (0)8706 077 223 Information hotline
Fax: +44 (0)1162 582 100
It is closed on Mondays, except for Mondays which are bank holidays or in school holidays.
During School Term: Tuesday to Sunday 10.00am – 5.00pm. (last entry 3.30pm).
During School Holidays: Monday to Sunday 10.00am – 5.00pm. (last entry 3.30pm).
Closed: 24th, 25th Dec and 1st January.
See official website below for current admission charges.
Did you know?
* The Beagle 2 Mars spacecraft was controlled from the centre’s Landing Operations Control Centre.
National Space Centre Links
National Space Centre: Official site of the attraction. Includes lots of photos, info on events.
Millennium Commission – Projects National Space Centre: Info and source of photo (30 Aug 2007)
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