Skip to main content
Newsletter Sign up newsletter signup

Key player in global space race moves to Leicester

The National Nuclear Laboratory open a base at Space Park Leicester, pictured here with Dr Alessandra Barco (left) and Dr Emily Jane Watkinson (right).

An organisation which is pioneering the development of nuclear power sources for space exploration has moved to Space Park Leicester.

The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission and is working with academics and industry partners to develop spacecraft systems for the European Space Agency that provide reliable, long-lived power for harsh environments.

It has created a process to extract Americium 241 from plutonium and repurpose it as fuel for systems developed by the University of Leicester, with support from the UK Space Agency, for use in future space missions.

NNL’s work is helping to stimulate jobs and growth and is cementing the UK’s position as a scientific superpower.

NNL Account Director, Professor Tim Tinsley, said: “With the opening of an office at Space Park Leicester, we are committed to deepening our collaboration with the University of Leicester.

“This builds on 10 years of successful joint projects, delivering on our shared ambition for deployable space nuclear power.”

The move has been welcomed by Space Park Leicester which was created by the University of Leicester to provide an inspirational base for space researchers and businesses.

Space Park Leicester Executive Director, Professor Ambrosi, whose own work focuses on space instrumentation and space nuclear power systems, said: “The synergies between the UK’s world class space and nuclear sectors are exemplified by the long-standing collaboration between the National Nuclear Laboratory and the University of Leicester in the development of space nuclear power systems and in particular radioisotope power technologies.

“We are proud to welcome the National Nuclear Laboratory to Space Park Leicester as part of our expanding collaboration and we look forward to exploring new opportunities with NNL.”

Dr Ambrosi discusses the uses of Americium, space nuclear power systems and the future of space technology in the latest University of Leicester Citizen Sounds podcast episode Future Space.

During the podcast he talks about the UK’s nuclear sectors and space sectors coming together to develop new technologies and how this will allow European space missions to reach previously inaccessible regions of space and help us to learn more about the solar system.

To learn more about NNL, visit: