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Astronaut Tim Peake opens Stevenage science centre

Tim Peake Image copyright sbna
Image caption Tim Peake with children at the opening of the new space educational centre

Astronaut Tim Peake has opened a new science and technology centre that aims to "inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists".

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths centre (STEM) at Airbus in Stevenage is based around the company's Mars rover exploration programme.

Maj Peake said "This is where you sow the seeds of inspiration and dreams of the future."

Airbus expects 5,000 students to visit the £2.5m centre every year.

Andy Stroomer, of Airbus said: "We strongly believe that instilling a passion for science and technology at an early age will widen the potential for innovation and creativity for a sustainable and empowered future."

STEM's educational programmes will be run in conjunction with North Hertfordshire College.

Principal Matt Hamnett said: "Their commitment to playing an active part in the creation of a vibrant talent pool for their industry is fantastic."

He said the centre would open to Hertfordshire students first, before incorporating visits from schools in surrounding counties and eventually the rest of the UK.

Maj Peake, who was a test pilot before becoming an astronaut said he was inspired as a teenager by aviation, making frequent visits to air shows and museums.

He said: "If you can get them excited in science and technology at an early age, that's where they'll make the decision to study those subjects and then we can grow our workforce of the future which will be of huge benefit for the UK."

Image copyright sbna
Image caption Some of the first young visitors watching a mechanical arm carrying out manipulations

STEM was opened on the day the government confirmed Maj Peake would be making a second mission to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft that carried him to and from the International Space Station (ISS) last year has gone on display at London's Science Museum.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Maj Peake became the first British astronaut to live on the ISS, where he spent six months carrying out experiments last year

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