Darth Vader, Buzz Aldrin and Brian Blessed: The National Space Centre hits two million

By Ben Miller | 17 September 2010
A photo of Darth Vader walking through a museum
Darth Vader paid a visit to the National Space Centre with a couple of friends© Gary Sheriston
If the ill-fated Millennium Dome ensured 2001's Millennium Commissions featured at least one blot on their adventurous copybook, the value of their efforts still leaves the country with a rich legacy.

Rotherham's futuristic Magna Science Centre and Cornwall’s glorious Eden Project spring to mind, and this weekend one of their fellow young venues, the National Space Centre in Leicester, reaches a significant landmark.

"We've been counting on our fingers and toes and we reckon we’re up to two million visitors, which is very exciting," says Malika Andress, the Midlands attraction's Communications Manager for the past six years. "We're going to have goodie bags, a real party atmosphere and some amazing prizes to dish out."

These include ticket giveaways and a meal with British-born NASA star Piers Sellers, and tours of the illuminative exhibition space and iconic Rocket Tower will offer the usual illuminative treat for partiers.

"It's very easy to sit in a head office and say 'we're going to develop this or that'," says Andress, discussing the secrets behind their popularity. "The main thing is to really listen to the people who come in. Our feedback is extremely important to us, and we try to have workshops and events which really engage people."

She describes her role as "the best job in the world". "I remember taking [Apollo 11 pilot] Buzz Aldrin around the museum – that was surreal. Or there was the day when I sat here and my phone rang and someone said 'Brian Blessed's down here to see you'.

"I get to play with astronauts, meet Darth Vader, and if anything’s about to hit earth I get to find out about it first. It's amazing."

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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