British astronaut Tim Peake opens £100m Space Park Leicester

The centre is expected to boost the regional economy by £750m a year and create 2,500 jobs

Tim Peake takes part in a Mars Day activity with schoolchildren at the opening of Space Park Leicester. Redpix

A £100 million ($130m) space research, innovation and teaching centre developed by the University of Leicester with local, national and international partners opened on Monday.

The 9,700 square-metre building provides a base for space researchers and business minds to work together from offices, shared laboratories, teaching areas and co-working spaces.

Space Park Leicester houses laboratories, workshops and calibration equipment along with high-tech projects such as the pioneering double-walled insulator for the Mars Sample Return 2026 Nasa-European Space Agency Mission.

It is also home to one of the UK’s largest clean rooms for assembling and testing space equipment.

Other workshops allow researcher to expand work in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, while engineers have access to a drone lab.

Space Park Leicester also hosts the headquarters of the Natural Environment Research Council-affiliated National Centre for Earth Observation.

The complex is expected to boost the regional economy by £750m a year and create 2,500 jobs.

Esa astronaut Tim Peake opened Space Park Leicester.

“Leicester has long been a key location for the UK’s space sector and it is a real privilege to formally open Space Park Leicester just a short distance away from the National Space Centre," Mr Peake said.

“Every successful space mission calls for experts from a wide range of backgrounds to pull together and collaborate to answer bigger questions, and that’s exactly what somewhere like Space Park Leicester helps to provide.

“I’m also excited to see this project highlighting the exciting careers available within the space sector and helping to train, educate and inspire our future generations."

To date, organisations joining space, climate and Earth observation scientists include: nuclear propulsion experts Rolls-Royce; AST SpaceMobile, developers of the first space-based cellular broadband network for mobile phones; Satellite Applications Catapult, a government-backed technology and innovation company; and air-quality specialists EarthSense.

“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," said Prof Richard Ambrosi, the park's executive director.

“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 health care to the technology in our mobile phones."

Updated: March 14, 2022, 11:17 PM