On the 50th anniversary of the first humans to walk on the Moon returning to Earth, construction hoardings have gone up at the National Space Centre as they launch into the next era of a multi-million-pound development programme.
Work has begun on The Extended Reality Laboratory (XR Lab) thanks to funding from the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome. Further support has been awarded by the Local Growth Fund from Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and The Garfield Weston Foundation.
The XR Lab will allow the creation of content for virtual, augmented and mixed reality media: collectively, “extended reality”. With workstations and a stereoscopic test dome, it will also be the home of a new NSC Creative Academy that will welcome young people to work with experts to simply further their interest or as part of their formal studies.
Utilising previous storage space at the Centre, the XR Lab will extend the programmes available to groups that are working with the Space Communications team through the new Community Engagement Programme.
This flexible space will not only support school visitors, it will also work with further education, industry and communities within Leicester, but also help grow the success of one of the world’s leading fulldome creative organisations, NSC Creative.
NCS Creative has produced shows from their offices at the National Space Centre that are currently showing in 660 theatres across 70 countries.
Kevin Harris, Chair of the LLEP, said “The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) are proud to support The Extended Reality Laboratory (XR Lab), which forms part of the recent developments at the National Space Centre that secured a £1 million allocation from our Local Growth Fund. Not only will this new facility be a great asset for students and young people, it will also open up space related opportunities to communities within Leicester and Leicestershire. The 50th anniversary celebrations of the moon landings this week have really put a spotlight on the space sector and it is great that Leicester is part of the future for space exploration and technology development.”
Going forward the development programme looks to engage 3,600 socio-economically disadvantaged young people from Leicester, of whom 50% will be female, in programmes and workshops. This space is just the start.