Astonishing Warrington link to Hubble Space Telescope revealed in new exhibition

A new Warrington exhibition reveals the town’s little-known connection to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Not many Warringtonians know that the town 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 immersive exhibition Space Odyssey, which promises to send visitors’ minds into orbit when it opens at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery on Saturday 15 June.

The showpiece is a range of solar array deployment hardware, some of which have actually flown on the Hubble telescope, travelling two billion kilometres around the Earth.

Over the last 30 years the spacecraft has produced spectacular images of our universe as part of a NASA mission, backed by European companies like ESR Technology, which has been operating in Warrington for over fifty 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,” Simon said.

“And 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 & 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.”

Listings information

Exhibition title: Space Odyssey

Dates: Saturday 15 June to Saturday 21 September

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

wmag.culturewarrington.org