Counting down to space centre launch

Alisdair Stewart with local MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who is supporting the venture
Alisdair Stewart with local MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who is supporting the venture

People in Kinross-shire are being urged to reach for the stars and help support ambitious plans for a space-themed visitor centre.

Some of Scotland’s top astronomers are to visit Loch Leven Community Campus in Kinross on Thursday, March 16, to whet local appetites for the launch of Aero Space Kinross (ASK), the brainchild of former glider pilot Alisdair Stewart.

Mr Stewart’s dream is to create a family-orientated aviation and space themed educational hub and visitor centre which he says could attract some 60,000 visitors a year.

It would comprise a fully immersive 3D planetarium, flight simulator, airsports showcase, lecture theatre, retail space and restaurant, creating around 40 jobs.

Mr Stewart has been developing the idea for about two years and a feasibility study has been undertaken.

He will give an update on the progress of the project on Thursday as well as announce the conversion of the charity behind the plan, Aero Space Scientific Educational Trust(ASSET) to a community benefit society in order to ensure transparency and optimise funding opportunities.

He explained: “Over recent months it has become evident that our corporate structure was impeding discussions with key funders who felt that ASSET was too narrowly governed, despite the fact it has an open membership.

“Conversion to a CBS makes the open membership structure much more transparent and ensures that control, ownership and benefits are clearly vested in the Kinross-shire community.”

Thursday’s event, which begins at 7.30pm, will be introduced by Dr Stephen Breslin, chief executive of Glasgow Science Centre.

The centre’s astronomer and planetarium manager Steve Owens will explore astrophysics with a talk titled Wonders of the Night Sky, while Jimmy Slaughter, a satellite applications solutions architect from Strathclyde University, will discuss The Opportunities from Space.

Mr Stewart believes that the location of Kinross makes it perfect for such a venture.

“Aero Space Kinross will be an iconic new leisure attraction in the heart of Scotland,” he said.

“It will convey both the sheer joy of flight and the excitement of space exploration.”

Thursday’s event is free but booking is advisable. For more information, visit www.aerospacekinross.com