Work is now under way on The Extended Reality Laboratory, or XR Lab, courtesy of funding from the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, UK Research and Innovation, and Wellcome.
In addition to the Fund’s backing, support has been awarded by the Local Growth Fund from Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, and The Garfield Weston Foundation.
Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, said: “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 Extended Reality Laboratory, or XR Lab, will allow the creation of content for virtual, augmented and mixed reality media; being referred to collectively as “extended reality”.
Housing workstations and a stereoscopic test dome, the lab will also be the base of a new NSC Creative Academy, established so young people can work with industry experts to further their scientific interest – whether recreationally or as part of formal studies.
The new attraction will take the place of an area previously designated for storage at the centre, and will extend the offering available to groups working with the Space Communications team through the new Community Engagement Programme.
Visitors from schools and further education will benefit from the facility, along with industry and communities local to Leicester. Fulldome creative organisation NSC Creative, too, will play a key role in its day-to-day functionality, having already produced shows from the National Space Centre that are currently showing in 70 countries.
In the future, the Space Centre’s development programme will aim to engage with around 3,600 socio-economically disadvantaged young people from Leicester – of whom 50% will be female – in order to ensure its programmes and workshops are open to visitors from all backgrounds.