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Exhibition will reveal Warrington’s 50-year link with the space race

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AN EXHIBITION opening in Warrington later this month will reveal the town’s little-known connection to the Hubble Space Telescope.
It is not generally known that Warrington has played an important role in most of Europe’s major space missions for the past four and a half decades.
But that’s the hot topic being explored in the exhibition Space Odyssey, which promises to send visitors’ minds into orbit when it opens at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday June 15.
The showpiece is a range of solar array deployment hardware, some of which have actually flown on the Hubble telescope, orbiting two billion kilometres above the Earth.
Over the last 30 years the spacecraft has produced spectacular images of the universe as part of a NASA mission, backed by European companies like ESR Technology, which has been operating in Warrington for more than 50 years.
Simon Griffin, ESR Technology’s business director for space, explained that the company’s space business, ESTL, tested one of the critical mechanisms before it was fitted onto the Hubble spacecraft.
The Birchwood-based company also examined parts of the same system when a complete solar array was returned to Earth in the Space Shuttle and then sent to Warrington.
“It was a great opportunity for us to work on the very prestigious Hubble spacecraft, both before launch and after it was returned to Earth,” Mr Griffin said.
“It gives us great pleasure to be able to share the part we have played in this very important space mission from our home right here in Warrington.
“It’s very rare to be able to touch something that’s been into space and back but thanks to the fascinating Space Odyssey exhibition the public will now be able to do just that!”
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings in 1969, Culture Warrington, the charity which runs Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, is continuing the space theme by bringing Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon to Parr Hall this autumn.
The hugely popular touring artwork measures seven metres in diameter and features high resolution detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface.
The moon installation, which will be suspended from rigging inside Parr Hall, will be free to visit and a raft of free events is scheduled to take place underneath, including a schools programme, gigs, a film night and yoga.
Roger Jeffery, producer for Culture Warrington, said: “We’re really excited about the opening of Space Odyssey, an exhibition which we hope will make the people of Warrington proud of their town’s involvement in space exploration over the last three decades.
“And to welcome Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon to Parr Hall will be an unforgettable experience for everyone able to come along and see the amazing installation for themselves.”
Space Odyssey will be on show from Saturday, June 15 to Saturday, September 21.

Museum of the Moon. Picture: Luke Jerram

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