There is more to space than toilets

By | Category: Travel news
Rosetta mission

a close up view of the Rosetta mission to a comet © European Space Agency

When I went to the Kennedy Space Center last year, one of the most popular exhibits was the space toilet. And guess what? The most popular question at the National Space Centre is also about toilets. Visitors are the same the world over!

In 2015 a UK astronaut will launch into space.  Such an event will stimulate interest in space travel and those sites involved in the space race. But you don’t need to travel to Cape Canaveral in Florida or Houston to follow events. You can go to Leicestershire.

Located just a couple of miles north of Leicester, the National Space Centre will have its 14th birthday this coming June yet already it attracts over 250,000 people a year. And that is at a time when space travel isn’t as obvious as it was a few years ago when shuttle blast-offs meant prime time news coverage. It was the Rosetta project to land on a comet that kept interest going in Europe last year. Who can forget the excitement of the lady professor from the Open University jumping up and down when the comet landing was made. And that is the excitement that the National Space Centre wants to encourage not just amongst schoolchildren, but everyone.

So far, in its short life, over 2.8 million visitors, including over 550,000 school children have visited the attraction but why do people visit?

You can see Helen Sharman’s launch couch and spacesuit from her journey to become the first Briton in space. You can see one of only two Soyuz capsules on display in the West. The other, in Washington’s Smithsonian Institute, has none of the rocket motors or electronics that feature on the Space Centre’s exhibit. There is a mock up of the Columbus Module from the International Space Station and and you can visit the UK’s largest planetarium which is named after the man who did so much over his long career to popularise an interest in space -Sir Patrick Moore.

The Rocket Tower, standing 42 metres tall, is the first thing you glimpse as you get close to the National Space Centre which is also home to Blue Streak (now there’s a name from the past when it was thought that the UK would have a space programme to rival the Americans and Russians)  and Thor Able rockets, as well as the Gagarin Experience, Apollo Lunar Lander and real Moon Rock.

Malika Andress, Head of Marketing at the National Space Centre said “People think the National Space Centre is a Leicester attraction, when the reality is that people from London, Nottingham and Birmingham are more likely to visit than those on the doorstep.”

This year there is a marketing emphasis on attracting locals.With the M1 just a few miles a away as well as the M69 linking the western parts of our countries, the National Space Centre is one of the easiest attractions for most of us to visit. 


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