The £ 100million Space Park Leicester opened its doors to dozens of young people to show them a fun way to jump into space technology as a future career.
The research, innovation and education hub led by the University of Leicester has hosted experiments, 3D printing shows and thermal imaging demonstrations, among others, for students across the region.
In recent months, the facility has become the home of high-tech space-related businesses and researchers, and a place for academia and industry to collaborate.
A central part of its operations will be the use of satellite data to help improve life on earth.
Members of the public also attended an open house that included presentations, tours and booths from organizations such as the National Earth Observation Center and the nearby National Space Center.
Leicester West MP Liz Kendall, who visited the building, said: ‘This center is really important for Leicester, Leicestershire and the country as well as there is huge potential for growth in space science and jobs in that sector.
“If we want to develop our country and give everyone a chance to have a better life, investing in something like Space Park is really important.”
The university developed the Space Park in partnership with Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
Dr Suzie Imber, Associate Professor of Space Physics at the University of Leicester, led a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) awareness workshop for young guests involving a rocket experiment at water.
She said: “You don’t have to be a scientist to be in the space industry, we need a whole range of people, such as engineers and technicians.
“We need people to think about how we design the spacecraft of the future and how we keep people alive in space. This is the larger aspect of the space community.
Over 70 grade 6 students from Inglehurst Junior School and over 60 grade 5 kids from Queensmead Primary Academy, both located nearby, attended workshops that put science into practice and learn about exploration spatial.
They also had the opportunity to learn more about Leicester’s role in the development of the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s largest and most powerful science telescope, due to launch in December.
Elizabeth Peutherer, teacher at Queensmead Primary Academy, said: “We are learning space at school and the visit was about how these skills are used in real life and to expand their learning.
“Letting them see and giving them ambition, showing them that science isn’t just something they learn in school, can really make a difference.
“Space Park Leicester is only a 10 minute drive from where we are and it’s amazing to be so close.”
Nine-year-old pupil Keanna Ngwenya said: “I thought it was amazing. It was so exciting, I will tell my mom everything I did. My favorite part was launching the water rockets outside.
Nine-year-old Arjun Singh said, “The rocket launch was the best time. I have learned that water bears can live in boiling or ice water or in space.
In the evening, the center opened its doors to the local community, with residents having the chance to learn about ongoing projects and tour the laboratories that will be used for the design and construction of satellites.