Address: Exploration Drive, Leicester, LE4 5NS
Price Band: ££ (plus car park costs £3 for the day)
As part of the launch of CAPCOM GO!, the new planetarium show at the National Space Centre, we were also invited to spend a day exploring the centre as well. If you have kids with an interest in space then this place is awesome!
The National Space Centre has 6 different areas for you to explore. These areas are: Into Space, Space Oddities, Orbiting Earth, Our Solar System, The Universe and Tranquility Base. There is also the planetarium and rocket tower to enjoy as well!
Into Space is where you will find out what its like to live in space. There is a replica of the Columbus Module from the International Space Station which is a fun place to take photos!
You can see what the food is like, size up a spacesuit and most importantly – find out how to go to the toilet with zero gravity!
The Space Oddities gallery has a large interactive table where you can find out more about the centre’s artifacts. There are lots of objects on display and some more unusual space stories
I absolutely love the giant globe in the Orbiting Earth gallery. It’s quite spectacular to see our planet on such a large scale. In this area you can find out about weather patterns, satellites and asteroids. You can even have a go at doing your own weather forecast which is great fun!
In the Solar System gallery you can find out more about our neighbouring planets. We saw a piece of rock from Mars in a display cabinet which is pretty cool. The highlight though was driving a Martian rover on a replica landscape of the planet Mars. The kids loved it!
The Universe gallery has lots of hands on exhibits for you to have a go at. Find out about alien life research, have a go at recreating the big bang or crawl through a wormhole!
The final gallery is Tranquility Base. Here you put yourself to the test to see if you could pass as an astronaut. You scan your ticket barcode at each activity so the computer can log how you get on. Then at the end of the activities it will allocate you with your ideal position on Base depending on how you scored.
As well as the galleries one of our favourite areas was the rocket tower. Here you can see Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets which are huge! They really are an incredible sight. A glass lift will take you up alongside the rockets to the very top for a birds-eye view. There are a couple of small galleries to explore on floors 3 and 4 on your way up as well. We liked seeing the piece of moon rock brought back to Earth from one of the Apollo missions. For me this was the most impressive part of our visit.
No day at the National Space Centre would be complete with seeing a show in the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium. Your entry ticket includes free entry to see one show on the day of your visit. I highly recommend you don’t miss this. We were lucky to be invited to the premiere showing of the Space Centre’s newest show CAPCOM GO! You can read more about that here: http://mumof2point5.com/blog/capcom-go-a-planetarium-film-experience/
Have a look ahead at the events when planning your visit. During our visit in the Easter holidays there were live science shows to enjoy and some crafts too. These were included in the normal entry fee. You can even upgrade your ticket to a free annual pass!
In terms of facilities at the National Space Centre you really can’t beat it. Disabled access is excellent throughout the centre with loads of space for wheelchairs and buggies to move around. There are plenty of disabled parking bays in the car park and space for up to 6 wheelchairs in the planetarium.
You will find a large shop selling all sorts of space themed goodies. Next to it are the toilets. There are plenty of cubicles plus disabled toilet and baby changing rooms. All were well kept during our visit. The on-site cafe Boosters is fab. There’s loads to choose from and really well priced as well (in fact a lot cheaper than I expected!). There is plenty of seating around the whole centre as well as in the cafe area. This was particularly useful for me during our visit at 8 month pregnant!
All in all this is a great hands-on family-friendly place to visit. The staff are really knowledgeable and friendly and there is so much to see and do. You can easily spend a full day here. For any space fans it’s a must!