National Space CentreEdit profile
The National Space Centre is one of the United Kingdom's leading visitor attractions that is devoted to space science and astronomy. It is located in the city of Leicester, England, next to the River Soar on the A6.
The building was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw, and it opened to the public on 30 June 2001. The tower (pictured right) is 42 metres tall.
University of Leicester
The centre arose from a partnership between the University of Leicester's Space Research Centre and local government agencies. The total construction cost was £52m, £26m of which came from a Millennium Commission grant, and the rest from private sector sponsors. It is run as an educational charity, and offers science workshops for school children of all ages. The National Space Centre currently has post-doctoral science researchers based at the University of Leicester's Space Research Centre (SRC) and the University of Nottingham's Institute of Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy (IESSG).
The Centre has on display the only known Soyuz spacecraft in Western Europe (there is one at the Smithsonian Institution as part of their Apollo-Soyuz Test Project display). The centre has six main galleries of exhibits and visitor activities covering space flight, astronomy and cosmology. The attraction also includes a Digistar 3 dome cinema and planetarium, a gift shop and a restaurant. The restaurant is ominously situated beneath the two nozzles of the Blue Streak and PGM-17 Thor rockets.
The Centre's own digital visualisation team, NSC Creative, make all the "fulldome" planetarium shows shown at the Centre. At present, NSC Creative fulldome shows are playing in over 150 planetaria in 20 countries worldwide. These productions include the official International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) planetarium show "We are Astronomers" which was funded by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Near Earth objects
The failed Beagle 2 Mars spacecraft was controlled from the centre's Landing Operations Control Centre. UK Government's official Near-Earth object (NEO) Information Centre is also based at the centre.
Apollo program astronaut Buzz Aldrin visited the Space Centre in June 2005. The first Star Wars Day was held on 30 July 2005. Due to the popularity of this event, Star Wars weekend was held on 12 November and 13 November 2005. The centre hosted a Doctor Who exhibition from 22 November 2005 to 8 January 2006. A Sci-Fi Weekend on the weekend beginning 17 June 2006 included a live-action experience similar to Alien War. On 19 July 2006 NASA astronaut Brian Duffy visited and told people about his trip to space. More recently the National Space Centre hosted a UK tour of the NASA STS-121 crew, including UK born Piers Sellers. The crew spoke to MPs, industry leaders and school children about the UK Space Industry. Many of the children who met the crew said they were inspired to consider science and technology as a further education topic. In 2007 the National Space Centre celebrated 50 Years in Space: the anniversary of the first satellite, Sputnik.
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