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Tim Peake announced as special guest at Space Park Leicester official opening

British astronaut Tim Peake will be on hand to declare Space Park Leicester officially open at a special ceremony next spring.

The first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station will attend Leicester’s pioneering £100 million research, innovation and teaching hub for space-related high-tech companies and researchers for an official invitation only opening ceremony on Monday, 14 March, 2022.

Developed by the University of Leicester in collaboration with local, national and international partners, the 4,800m2 facility provides an inspirational base for space scientists, researchers and business minds to collaboratively work together from offices, shared laboratories, teaching facilities and co-working spaces.

In April representatives from construction company Bowmer + Kirkland handed over the keys to the building, marking a significant milestone in the completion of the first phase of the project, which opened this summer. 

To date organisations joining space, climate and Earth observation scientists include: AST SpaceMobile, developers of the first space-based cellular broadband network for mobile phones, Satellite Applications Catapult, a government-backed technology and innovation company, Space solutions specialists Northrup Grumman, air quality expert EarthSense and Omnidea, an international space technology company. 

The second phase of the development, also for collaborative work between industry and academia, will provide state-of-the-art laboratories and workshops focussed on Artificial Intelligence and robot-assisted satellite production.  

Professor Richard Ambrosi, Professor of Space Instrumentation and Space Nuclear Power Systems in the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “We are absolutely delighted to announce that Tim Peake will join us at what will be a momentous celebration for Leicester, the East Midlands and the rest of the country.

“Being able to celebrate our magnificent facility and Leicester’s six decades of experience in space and Earth observation science, as well as one of the largest groupings of space-related researchers of any institution in the UK, together with Britain’s very own astronaut, will mark the start of something special.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of our partners for recognising the leading research taking place at the University of Leicester. Their support will enable us to develop innovative technologies and methods to transform our understanding of space and our own planet in the future.”

Space Park Leicester aims to leverage that capability and capacity to attract and grow space and space-enabled businesses. In doing so, it will bring jobs to the East Midlands as well as create expanded opportunities for students and the wider community.

During his mission to the International Space Centre in 2015, current European Space Agency astronaut Tim, took part in more than 250 scientific experiments and focussed on education outreach, engaging more than two million school children across Europe in over 30 projects.

As an ambassador for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Tim is passionate about inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers.

He said: “Teamwork and communication are vital skills for any successful space mission – two key themes that resonate with Space Park Leicester, developed to provide a unique offering of collaborative work between University researchers and the private sector, working side by side to develop technologies and processes to be used in space.

“Space Park Leicester will highlight the exciting careers available within the space sector and help to train, educate and inspire our future generations.”

Space Park Leicester is being led by the University of Leicester in partnership with Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).

Phase one development at Space Park Leicester is supported by an £8.175m allocation from the Local Growth Fund, part of government funding awarded to the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) for projects that benefit the local area and economy.

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