Back to the Moon for Good at the National Space Centre

00:30 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

A few weeks ago we received a very exciting invitation, to visit somewhere that has been high on our 'to see' list for some time. The National Space Centre in Leicester is the home of the UK's largest planetarium, six exhibition galleries and an iconic rocket tower. It's a fascinating place, needless to say, my very speedy reply was 'yes, we'll be there.'

National Space Centre Leicester

We were invited along to the National Space Centre to see the world premiere of 'Back to the Moon for Good.' This is a film created to promote the Google Lunar xPrize which has been organised to encourage teams of scientists and explorers to look to the moon again, to push boundaries in exploration. The last lunar landing was before I was born but this hasn't stopped me growing up with an abiding fascination for space. I'm something of a science fiction nerd and I've always been interested in the space programme, following avidly during the Space Shuttle programme's development, through Mir and then the International Space Station, with the numerous exploratory rovers along the way. I've often wondered why no-one has returned to the moon, favouring orbiting the planet in space shuttles and stations instead, it seems that the Moon simply fell out of fashion. I think it's sad. Every child who first becomes interested in space looks up at our nearest neighbour and wonders what it is like up there, I don't think the average three year old, like Bud who is currently obsessed by space, wonders what it would be like to orbit the earth on the International Space Station.

Back to the Moon for Good Google xPrize Planetarium Film

Google have sponsored the largest incentivised prize in history. Privately funded teams will compete to land a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface, then navigate it 500 metres on the surface whilst beaming back images, video and data back to the control centre back on Earth. It is amazing to think that the teams who successfully land on the moon will be the first to do so in more than forty years. The film is narrated by Tim Allen (yes, Buzz Lightyear is, very appropriately, on board) and features a 24 minute journey through the Apollo programmes and into the present day. Showcasing the teams who are competing against each other, it was wonderful to see the passion for both the Moon and exploration, demonstrated by them. The Planetarium dome is the perfect setting for the film, it is expansive and beautiful in the full 360 degrees setting.  If you don't get the chance to see it in a planetarium it will be available to all in 2D format through the website later.

Back to the Moon for Good Google xPrize Film at the National Space Centre Leicester Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium

We had plenty of time to explore the National Space Centre on our day there and I was very impressed. I do worry that Bud and Little Miss may not enjoy experiences like this, although both are very accustomed to visiting museums and galleries already. I'm often anxious to see if children of their age will be accommodated. I'm happy to say that we had a wonderful day. Bud was utterly enthralled by the exhibitions and galleries and it is clear that pre-school children have been thought about just as much as their older peers. There are dressing up stations, craft activities and life-size landing modules for children of all ages to explore, some of these are especially good for little children. I was so pleased that Bud managed to find some understanding of most of the installations, with help from us to explain it in three year old-friendly terms. With spaces themed around the planets, exploring the universe, going into space, orbiting earth, space now and the interactive Tranquillity Base, there is an exhibition for every interest.

Fun at the National Space Centre Leicester

It was especially lovely to meet up with some blogger friends and spend time with them and their children. Bud and Clearly Bex' Lewis got to become good friends over the Summer when they were still living in Lancashire but, now they have moved back to the Midlands, we don't get the opportunity to see them as often. The boys loved exploring the galleries together when they were reunited for the day, with the most exciting part being a 'real life rock from the Moon' on display in the Rocket Tower.

More fun at the National Space Centre Leicester

We had a really great day at the National Space Centre and it is somewhere I would love to revisit in the future. It was very easy to spend a full day there. I'd urge anyone with an interest in space, no matter how old they are, to try to check out 'Back to the Moon for Good', especially if you can see it in a Planetarium. We were enthralled by it, and the opening is incredible. Upon leaving the planetarium I immediately wanted to go and find out lots more about the prize. We were treated to a panel featuring the makers of the film and those participating in the prize and I think the whole room was fascinated, and excited, to learn that the first teams could be landing on the moon in 2015. I'll be following the Google xPrize avidly now, I'm a little disappointed that there isn't a British team to root for (although a team from the Isle of Man has merged with an Israeli team apparently) so I'm going to pick a team or two and follow their progress over the next couple of years. I'd urge anyone interested to do the same. I'm hoping my little stargazer will be as interested as I am.

Small Boy stargazing at the National Space Centre Leicester

Disclaimer: We attended the National Space Centre as their guests and received free admission, refreshments, lunch and a gift. All opinions are honest and my own.