UK space research pioneer wins lifetime achievement award

Posted by pt91 at Jul 25, 2013 11:24 AM |
Professor Alan Wells awarded Sir Arthur Clarke Award by UK astronaut Tim Peake
UK space research pioneer wins lifetime achievement award

UK astronaut Tim Peake presents Professor Wells with his Lifetime Achievement Award.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 25 July 2013


A UK space research pioneer whose visionary work led to the establishment of the National Space Centre in Leicester has been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

University of Leicester Emeritus Professor Alan Wells, received the international recognition for his outstanding research and contribution to space science at the UK Space Conference in Glasgow in the presence of the Rt Hon David Willetts, Minister for Science and the Universities and over 400 conference delegates.

The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, together with the British Interplanetary Society, organised the awards which were sponsored by the UK Space Agency and presented by UK Astronaut Tim Peake.

The Sir Arthur Clarke Awards, known as the “Arthurs” have been presented annually since 2005 in recognition of notable or outstanding achievements in space activities. The lifetime achievement is the highest accolade offered, awarded for exceptional achievement in an area of space activity.

Professor Wells said:  “The “Arthurs” are to space people what the Oscars are to Hollywood. I am delighted, but quite amazed, to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Working in space research, at the cutting edge of new technologies and new discoveries, has been exciting and I am privileged to have had this experience and also to have worked with so many of the talented and creative people that make up the space community in this country.”

Congratulating him, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester Professor Sir Robert Burgess said: “I am delighted to hear that Alan Wells has received such significant recognition.  He has been instrumental in moving forward space research in the UK and internationally alongside making the discipline of space research accessible to the wider public.”

Chas Bishop, Chief Executive of the National Space Centre, added: "This is a terrific award for Alan and recognition of an extraordinary career in space science. It is sobering to think of all his achievements before he and colleagues came up with the idea for the National Space Centre and, subsequently, the National Space Academy.  So many people have benefited from these two initiatives, in which he remains a key player.  We are very much indebted to him."

Alan Wells, Emeritus Professor and Emeritus Leverhulme Fellow, was appointed Founding Director of the University of Leicester's Space Research Centre in 1995, remaining in post until retirement in 2003. During his time at Leicester he took part in 10 space missions including, most recently, NASA's award winning SWIFT mission that has explored the origins of highly energetic cosmic gamma ray bursts that emit more energy in 10 seconds than our Sun will emit in its whole lifetime.

He, with two University of Leicester colleagues –Professor Alan Ponter and Nigel Siesage -  came up with the idea for National Space Centre and, as non-executive director, helped to shape the development of the Centre as a £60M Millennium Landmark project  also securing the initial funding for an initiative that has since developed into the highly successful National Space Academy.

He is currently involved with a European Commission research programme, called THE ISSUE, which is exploring new uses of space technologies to address urban traffic, health and environmental issues, thereby looking to use advances from space research in more everyday applications.

This award is the third time the National Space Centre has been recognised by the “Arthurs”. Director of Education and Space Communications Anu Ojha was awarded the Inspiration award in 2010, whilst the Centre –the brainchild of the University of Leicester - received the 2005 Achievement in Education award.


NOTE TO NEWSDESK: To  interview Professor Alan Wells –please contact University of Leicester press office.

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