The man behind the idea for the National Space Centre has been honoured at an international awards ceremony.
Professor Alan Wells, the founding director of the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre, was presented with the lifetime achievement award at the UK Space Conference, in Glasgow, earlier this month.
Named after the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Arthur C Clarke Awards recognise those who have made an outstanding contribution to studying the cosmos.
Professor Wells has worked on 10 space mission during his career, including the Nasa Swift project – aimed at exploring cosmic gamma ray bursts that emit more energy in 10 seconds than our Sun will in its 10 billion-year life.
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He also came up with the idea for the National Space Centre, in Exploration Drive, with colleague Professor Alan Ponter and helped develop the centre as a non-executive director.
He said: “The Arthurs are to space people what the Oscars are to Hollywood.
“I’m delighted, but quite amazed, to receive the lifetime achievement award.
“Working in space research, at the cutting edge of new technologies and new discoveries, has been exciting and I am privileged to have had this experience and also to have worked with so many of the talented and creative people that make up the space community in this country.”
This award marks the third time the National Space Centre has been recognised by the Arthurs.
In 2010, director of education and space communications Anu Ojha was given the inspiration award.
The centre itself received the 2005 achievement in education award.
Chas Bishop, chief executive of the space centre, said: “This is a terrific award for Alan and recognition of an extraordinary career in space science.
“It is sobering to think of all his achievements before he and colleagues came up with the idea for the National Space Centre and, subsequently, the National Space Academy.
“So many people have benefited from these two initiatives, in which he remains a key player. W