National Space Centre in Leicester is planning to invest £4m in expansion to accommodate its growing visitor numbers. Last year, the attraction saw 315,000 visitors of which 90,000 were children in formal school groups.
The extension will be built on the site of the existing Challenger Learning Centre, just outside the entrance to the main building.
It will cover around 9,200 sq ft, providing space for school science workshops and to deliver classes and apprenticeships in space engineering.
The extension will also house exhibitions and be used to host corporate events.
Space centre chief executive Chas Bishop said, 'Visitor numbers have grown by 50 per cent in the past five years and it currently employs 170 people across its three businesses – far more than was ever envisaged when its iconic building was first designed.
'The planned extension will accommodate growing school, family and corporate visitors with world class presentations, temporary exhibitions and facilities that reflect our ever-increasing fascination with space and its ability to help develop the next generation of scientists and engineers from all areas of society.'
The Government announced that the Space Centre would get £1m as part of the latest round of growth funding to the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership.
The space centre – which has a 140ft rocket tower as well as a planetarium, and galleries featuring space suits, satellites and meteorites – is set to play a key part in the planned £75 million Space Park, to be built on the former John Ellis School site a few hundred yards to the north.