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SPACE
(The Final Frontier)
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Anthony Alloicious Hancock said "If we'd had our own rocket, I'd have been the first one up there. I had my name down for the Blue Streak."
 (From Hancock's Half Hour; The Blood Donor)

Souvenir Guide
National Space Centre souvenir guide
You can see the Blue Streak, Britain's own rocket, at the National Space Centre in Leicester.

We spent an enjoyable afternoon there recently, and viewed the Blue Streak and the US Air Force 'Thor Able' rocket in the impressive Rocket Tower.

The National Space Centre is a marvellous learning experience, covering outer space, the planets of our solar system, space rockets old and new, satellites and satellite communication including a full size representaion of the first Russian  satellite Sputnik.  There is also a restored Russian Soyuz capsule on display in the entrance and many impressive displays in the main exhibition area too numerous to mention, but include many models and interactive displays.

Apart from the Rocket Tower and the large exhibition area,  there is also the most amazing Space Theatre Planetarium which presents impressive shows on the massive dome overhead.   The show we saw was called 'Mars' and was dedicated to the current exploration of the red planet and the British Beagle2 experiment that was due to land on Mars at Christmas 2003, but sadly failed to reach the surface of the red plant successfully.  The Beagle2 was a project in which Leicester University was directly involved - the fact that the mission failed is no reflection on that though.   Space exploration is a very dangerous pursuit.

Sputnik










Model of Sputnik
Back in the main exhibition area there is a multitude of display boards and exhibits dedicated to the Beagle2 project, but we felt that a short film or video could have also been shown here or perhaps a centre guide could have been present to explain in more detail.  However what was very exciting was that there is a large window looking into the main control centre so visitors can see exactly what goes on in a space control nerve centre.

National Space Center
Click logo to visit National Space Centre website
I heartily recommend a visit to The National Space Centre which is located near the centre of Leicester and is easy to reach from the M1 motorway.  I have to say that entrance is not exctly cheap at £8.95 and that a couple of the displays did not work as intended on our visit, but that is a minor niggle.  The cafe was, as always with such attractions, not particularly cheap either and the coffee tasted like hot chocolate!  More importantly the lift to the top of the Rocket Tower was not operational at the time (2003) but that should be rectified by the time you read this.  Without a lift visitors had to climb over 141 steps if they wished to get to the top and look down on the Thor Able and Blue Streak rockets. 

To find out more visit the National Space Centre website by clicking on the logo to the left.  I think it really is a must see attraction.


ESA and NASA Space Missions

To follow the progress of current ESA European Space Agency and NASA space missions click on the links below:

ESA website:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/index.html
NASA website: http://www.nasa.gov/news/highlights/index.html for the latest news
BBCi: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/default.stm for the latest science news


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