Page last updated at 23:56 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 00:56 UK

Space academy ready for blast off

Some of the world's top names in space science will lend their expertise to the UK's first space academy which is opening later.

The academy has been set up at the National Space Centre, Leicester, with a 900,000 grant from the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA).

The mission is to inspire thousands of young people and encourage them to look to space for a career.

A variety of projects will be aimed at students aged nine to 19.

'Unique insights'

Professor Alan Wells, a director of the Space Centre, said: "I am excited at the prospect of the space academy providing young people and their teachers with unique insights into the role of space in modern life.

"We will be helped by some of the world's leading experts in space science and will be adding to the successful science education programmes already being delivered by the National Space Centre and its partners."

Dr Bryan Jackson, chairman of EMDA, added: "We are delighted to support such an imaginative programme to help increase the number and quality of scientists and engineers available to business in the East Midlands and the UK."

Science and Innovation minister Ian Pearson will open the academy.

The National Space Centre has pioneered using space and space exploration in science education since it opened in 2001.

More than 50,000 schoolchildren and 2,000 teachers visit the centre every year.

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The UK's first ever space academy has been launched in Leicester.




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