UK in Space Festival

07 March 2020

A Celebration of British Science Week and the UK in Space.

Book now for this fantastic event

mascot Telescope Right
Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Join us for a celebration of British Science Week at the National Space Centre! Get hands-on with real science, discover new missions heading to space, learn about the vibrant UK space industry and the career opportunities within it, hear inspiring speakers and meet astronauts.


We’ve curated a premium event packed with talks, exclusive exhibition content and activities.


Explore our galleries and include an immersive planetarium show OR talk ticket with our special guests (subject to availability – must be booked in advance)


Our café and shop will be open throughout the day


Booking in advance is advised to guarantee entry

This is a premium event. Annual passes and vouchers are not valid. A general admission ticket is required to attend the UK in Space Festival.


Image Credits: NASA / ESA

Britons in Space


Join two British-born astronauts, Helen Sharman and Tim Peake, as they share their experiences of living and working in space on missions that took place 24 years apart.

Time: 11:00 – 12:00 / 14:30 – 15:30

PLEASE NOTE: both of these talks have now sold out, however, we will be live streaming the 11:00 session into the galleries, so you can still see it as live. Due to the nature of the event, there are no autograph opportunities or photo shoot sessions. 

Building a Mars Rover


– Paul Meacham
Airbus Defence and Space

Europe is sending its first rover – ‘Rosalind Franklin’ – to Mars in 2020, equipped with the latest autonomous technology and a 2-metre drill to look for signs of life below the Martian surface. This rover, a key part of ESA’s ExoMars mission, was built here in the UK by Airbus. Join Lead Systems Engineer Paul Meacham to learn about the challenges of building a rover for Mars.

Time: 12:15 – 12:45
Location: Live Space

A Physics Lesson from Space


– Sophie Allan
National Space Academy

Join Head of Teaching and Learning Sophie Allan as she discusses what it takes to get your experiments into orbit, runs the same demonstrations Tim did in space and shows how when you remove the effect of gravity, true physics reveals itself.

Time: 12:15 – 12:45
Location: Shuttle Suites

Returning to the Giant Planets

Leigh Fletcher

– Dr. Leigh Fletcher
University of Leicester

The four outer planets of our Solar System – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune – could be host to discoveries far beyond our wildest imaginations. We hope to unravel how these giants first formed and whether their icy moons harbour sub-surface oceans with the right conditions for life. Join Leigh Fletcher as he looks ahead to the coming decade of exploration of the outer reaches of our Solar System, from the Juno and JUICE missions to a planned future mission to Uranus and Neptune.

Time: 14:15 – 14:45
Location: Live Space

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Human Spaceflight – the triumphs, tragedies and future


– Professor Anu Ojha
Director at the National Space Centre and Advisor on ESA’s Human Spaceflight and Exploration programme

More than half a century after Yuri Gagarin became the first human to break through the “final frontier”, human spaceflight still pushes our science and engineering to its limits.
What were the drivers behind the Space Race and what are we doing now on the International Space Station? What are the new human spaceflight nations and private companies? When will we return humans to the surface of the Moon and onwards out to Mars? And will humanity ever become a truly interplanetary species?

Time: 13:15 – 13:45
Location: Shuttle Suites

The James Webb Space Telescope

Prof. Gillian Wright

– Professor Gillian Wright
UK Astronomy Technology Centre

Learn more about the future of astronomy with the James Webb Space Telescope, due to launch in 2021. The scientific successor to Hubble and much more powerful, Webb will be the largest space observatory ever. This amazing new telescope promises to revolutionize our understanding of the first stars and galaxies in the universe, as well as offer tantalizing glimpses into the atmospheres of distant exoplanets. Join Gillian Wright as she describes the challenges of building and launching such a large mission, the tantalizing science it is designed to explore, and how engineers and scientists from across the UK have led an international team to build the MIRI instrument.

Time: 14:15 – 14:45
Location: Shuttle Suites

Space Weather in the Solar Orbiter Era

Dr Jasmine Sandhu

– Dr Jasmine Sandhu
UCL, Mullard Space Science Laboratory

The Sun has immense impacts on Earth’s near-space and ground environments, and this coupling is known as ‘Space Weather’. At times, space weather is responsible for hazardous radiation levels for Earth-orbiting astronauts and spacecraft, as well as large-scale electrical blackouts. Find out how these conditions arise, and how new observations from the recently launched Solar Orbiter mission will help us understand the Sun and predict space weather.

Time: 15:15 – 15:45
Location: Live Space

Mercury: First Rock from the Sun

Dr Suzie Imber

– Dr Suzie Imber
University of Leicester

Mercury if full of mysteries, and the European/Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft is currently enroute to investigate. Join Suzie Imber, planetary scientist at the University of Leicester to find out why Mercury is so intriguing, and how Leicester built the first X-Ray telescope to fly to another planet.

Time:16:15 – 16:45
Location: Live Space


Bruno the Mars rover. Credit: Airbus

Meet Bruno the Mars rover

Come and meet our special guest, Bruno, a working model of the ExoMars rover, alongside Airbus Exomars experts who will drive Bruno across our mini Martian surface here at the National Space Centre.

Meteorites Display & Shop

Ever touched a rock from space? Join meteorite expert Graham Ensor and explore his collection of meteorites, including the largest lunar meteorite in the UK.

A range of meteorites will also be available to purchase from MSG-Meteorites. Inspired by wonderful and enigmatic rocks from space, MSG-Meteorites sell genuine space rocks, including meteorites from the Moon and Mars, with prices from £3 to £3,000. We also sell books, associated items and meteorite jewellery.

Solar Observing – Leicester Astronomical Society

The Leicester Astronomical Society are local experts on astronomy and stargazing. For this daytime festival, join them to (safely) observe the Sun through a solar telescope.

Weather dependent between 11:00-14:00.

Reaction Engines

Reaction Engines is a privately held Company based in Oxfordshire. It employs over 200 staff across its sites in the UK and US, and is developing the technologies for a new class of innovative hypersonic propulsion system – the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRETM). SABRE is an advanced air-breathing rocket engine and is a leading contender for the next generation of hypersonic flight and space vehicles. SABRE engines will enable aircraft to fly over five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) in the atmosphere and allow space launch vehicles to be built that will radically improve the affordability and responsiveness of access to space.

University of Leicester, School of Physics and Astronomy

The University of Leicester is world renowned for their role in the exploration of space. Their spacecraft, Bepicolombo, is heading towards Mercury right now. Join the researchers themselves and discover what the future of Mercury exploration looks like.

The National Space Academy

The National Space Academy teaches science, technology, engineering and maths using the inspirational context of space. They open doors into the space sector by working with young people, teachers, industry professionals, and academics. Their team of subject specialists delivers projects all over the world, ranging from space masterclasses and careers conferences to keynote speeches and global summer schools.


Learn how this Edinburgh-based rocket company is gearing up for its first launch in 2022, based on the latest technology and a 3D printed engine.

Mullard Space Science Laboratory

UCL’s Department of Space and Climate Physics at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), is a world-leading research organisation and is the UK’s largest university-based space research group. 

Their scientific research ranges from cosmology and the study of extra-galactic objects, to studies of the Sun, the planets and their moons, the Earth, and humans working and living in space.  Further to this they research and develop the next generation of space instrumentation such as that on Solar Orbiter, ExoMars and many others 


Live Space Show: Travelling to Space

Join our space communications team as they take you through the fundamentals of rocketry and space exploration, accompanied by plenty of explosive demos in this 20-minute family show.

Time:13:15 / 15:15
Location: Live Space

Senses of Space

Ever wondered what space smells or sounds like? Come and find out for yourself in our immersive senses of space.

Time:11:00 – 16:00
Location: The Universe gallery

Space Lab: Satellite egg challenge

Find out about the future of space ports in the UK where they will launch and the payloads that will be sent. Then work together to test your engineering skills to create a support for your egg during a Space launch. It will then be vibration tested on 3 axis, to see if it could survive the harshness of a rocket launch. Can your space egg withstand the journey to Space?

Time:11:00 – 16:00


Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium. Credit: Hufton Crow

Tour of the Night Sky: UK Edition

This is a presenter led tour of what you can see in the sky above our city in the past, present and future. Take a tour that you can help create, through our solar system, to discover planets and moons. Go beyond to see other galaxies, stars, nebula and the wonders all around us. This is a special edition show highlighting the UK’s stellar contribution to space exploration! This show is a traditional presenter led planetarium show and is suitable for those with an interest in science and astronomy.

This show is a traditional presenter led planetarium show and is suitable for those with an interest in science and astronomy. Is suitable for children aged 5+.

Time: 12:15 / 15:45


An immersive fulldome show celebrating the Apollo Space programme, and what it took to put the first human on the Moon.

This show is an immersive 360 degree fulldome experience suitable for all the family. It includes educational content that will help children aged 7-14, as well as those with an interest in science and space.

Time: 13:00 / 13:40 / 16:20


This is a Premium Event – Annual Passes are NOT valid

Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?
No, this event is suitable for adults, families, and children with an interest in science and space. Many of the talks will be 30 to 60 minutes in duration, so might not be suitable for young children.

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?
There are 400 car parking spaces available on site. The bus stop to the 54 route within a few minutes walk of the Centre. Park and Ride is also an option, if you head to the Birstall site and get off at the ASDA Abbey Lane stop.

What can/can’t I bring to the event?
Food and drink can be brought with you, however, due to the nature of the event we cannot guarantee indoor picnic areas during peak café periods.

Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?
The National Space Centre – 0116 261 0261 (this phone line is staffed Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00)

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
Either a printed ticket or a ticket on your phone or tablet (we like the non-printing option, it is better for the planet)

Can I update my registration information?
No, once a ticket is purchased no changes can be made.

Is my registration/ticket transferrable?
No, tickets are non transferable or refundable.

What is the refund policy?
All tickets are non-refundable.