National Space Centre
Exploration Dr, Leicester LE4 5NS, UK
| +44 116 261 0261
Sat, Sun 10am - 5pm
Mon - Fri 10am - 4pm
Spaced OutWho would have thought that Leicester, a self-deprecating city in the Midlands, would host one of the UK’s leading tourist attractions?
A transparent beehive (designed by Nicholas Grimshaw, once architect now major DJ on Radio 1), it houses Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets, as well as one of only two Soyuz capsules on display in the West.
It boasts a precious piece of Moon rock (there's only 1kg of it on planet Earth, and only two pieces on public display in the UK).
The centre is stuffed full of facts about our solar system, lots of valuable insights into how to live in space (space toilets and recycling of urine to drinking water) and even a Soviet canine high-altitude pressure suit. You can find out about Laika's unfortunate end in the Rocket Tower. In the Tranquility Base, prepare to become a trainee astronaut on a lunar base in 2025, culminating in the ultimate test: the bone-rattling, simulated ride to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.
A trip to the National Space Centre is better than any anti-depressant drug - when you're sitting in the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium, immersed in the starry, and infinite, sky you can't help but feel how amazing our universe is and how much more there is beyond ourselves.
As the first Briton, and woman, in space, Helen Sharman says, "I love travelling - and I think it was being in space, looking back at the Earth, that made me realise...how little I know, and how much I can actually learn by going to different parts of the world."