LITTLE known connection between Warrington and one of NASA’s most important missions is being celebrated at the Museum and Art Gallery.

Last summer, families went on a space odyssey to discover how ESR Technology in Risley was involved in preparing the Hubble Telescope for launch 30 years ago.

It was part of a wider space-themed programme, which culminated in Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon coming to Parr Hall as part of Warrington Arts Festival.

Now, ESR has donated a piece relating to the Hubble to the Museum Street venue on a long-term basis.

The company tested one of the critical mechanisms before it was fitted onto the space telescope.

They also examined parts of the same system when a solar array – which was what powered the telescope – was returned to Earth in a space shuttle and sent to Warrington after its two billion kilometre journey.

ESR has also played a part in most European space missions over the past five decades.

Craig Sherwood, collections officer at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, said: “One of the reasons we held the Space Odyssey exhibition last year was to highlight the fact that space research, development and test is going on just down the road, which is just amazing.

“Warrington’s involvement in European space missions still remains a little-known fact, so this is a great opportunity to celebrate that heritage with this long-term exhibit.”

Visitors will be able to marvel at a test model of the Solar Array Drive Mechanism (SADM) – the part of the Hubble, which powered the telescope continuously during its orbit.

It is available to view now in the Cabinet of Curiosities gallery.

Craig added: “The Hubble Space Telescope is powered by solar energy and so the solar arrays are rotated to get the maximum amount of sunlight on the Hubble’s solar cells.

“The SADM enables this to happen by rotating the solar arrays at the required speed, to collect as much solar power as possible and transfer it to the telescope’s instruments and batteries”

The Hubble has been crucial to our understanding of space capturing images of thousands of galaxies billions of light years away,

And Simon Griffin, ESR Technology’s business director for space, hopes it inspires the next generation.

He said: “The SADM is a perfect showcase of our expertise. We’re a key part of European space industry and we’re currently working on things that will travel to the Sun and to Jupiter’s icy moons.

“It’s really exciting and it’s what really gives us that buzz.”

The Hubble’s Solar Array Drive Mechanism is available to view at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery’s Cabinet of Curiosities