The National Space Centre

With nearby Leicester University offering one of the UK's few space sciences course and the country's own space program being based in the city, it is perhaps unsurprising that Leicester is the home of The National Space Centre.

Contained within a state-of-the-art building designed by Nicholas Grimshaw, The Centre was opened in 2001 and has proved to be a roaring success with both locals and visitors to the area alike. One of Britain's most recent and, sadly, unsuccessful forays into space - The Beagle 2 mission to Mars - was orchestrated and ultimately guided from The Centre's Control Room.

Among the many fascinating exhibits on show in The Centre's main galleries are such technological marvels as an original Russian 'Soyuz' spacecraft (one of very few surviving), a full-size replica of one of the modules that make up the EU's International Space Station or even simply the unusual way in which an astronaut's rations are packaged.

Aside from many examples of impressive space hardware, there are also pieces of Martian and Lunar rock on display, all manner of interactive displays covering everything from black holes to The Big Bang, even a Space News Desk which will endeavour to answer all your cosmos-related questions. The Centre has also hosted a number of one-off theme-days and exhibitions, such as the highly popular Star Wars Day or Doctor Who exhibition.

In 2005, The National Space Centre was honoured to host a visit by one of the original Apollo mission astronauts, none other than the second man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin.