THE Government’s Minister for science, research and innovation has spoken about the importance of Leicester on the international space industry stage, at the opening of its brand new ‘Space Park’.
Yesterday (March 14), UK astronaut Tim Peake officially opened Space Park Leicester, a pioneering space research, innovation and teaching cluster, which is set to contribute £750m a year to the UK space sector over the next decade.
It is also expected to support more than 2,500 direct and indirect jobs in the East Midlands.
Speaking at the launch, George Freeman, the Government’s Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, said that the launch of Space Park Leicester “wasn’t just an important day for Leicester, but also an important day for the UK space economy”; a 16 billion pound sector, which is set to double in the next few years.
“It’s a tribute to Leicester’s leadership in space technology in the last few decades,” he said of the facility, which sits in Corporation Road, close to the National Space Centre.
“What it does is bring together big industrial researchers with academics, small companies, investors and students.
“So for any students around the country, inspired by space and wanting to work out how do you build a career in space, you can do no worse than come here.”
The 9,700m2 Space Park is the result of years of planning, with an original vision set out for the facility seven years ago.
The University of Leicester, which has been involved in space missions since 1967, has been one of the major players at the heart of its fruition.
“Our University has a long-established track record of space research over the last six decades and, through the facilities provided here in collaboration with our local, national and international partners, we have well and truly placed Leicester on the map as a key cluster in the UK space sector,” said Nishan Canagarajah, vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester.
“Facilities provided here in collaboration with our local, national and international partners, we have well and truly placed Leicester on the map as a key cluster in the UK space sector.
“I’m really pleased that we have completed this successfully even though we’ve been through a pandemic,” he added.
Professor Richard Ambrosi, Executive Director of Space Park Leicester, said: “We are delighted that Space Park Leicester, even before today’s formal opening, has already shown itself to be the ideal launchpad for cutting-edge space science research and enterprise.
“By hosting forward-thinking University researchers and high-end technology businesses under one roof, Space Park Leicester enables accelerated collaboration on some of the biggest questions of our time: not least the climate crisis.
“Space, by its very nature, feels very far away from our everyday lives here on Earth, but the work undertaken here has the potential to transform almost every aspect of society, from healthcare to the technology in our mobile phones.”
Award-winning Space Park Leicester houses laboratories, workshops and calibration facilities along with high tech projects such as the pioneering double-walled insulator for the Mars Sample Return 2026 NASA-ESA Mission as well as one of the UK’s largest academic clean rooms for the assembling and testing of space equipment.
Other workshops allow researcher to expand work in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), while engineers have access to a dedicated drone lab.
To find out more about Space Park Leicester, visit: https://www.space-park.co.uk/