THE man at the centre of plans to build the world’s largest ground-based optical and infrared telescope will speak at a space conference in County Durham next year.

Professor Colin Cunningham, UK director for the European Extremely Large Telescope Programme (E-ELT), will address delegates at Spacetech, a highly anticipated conference at the North- East Technology Park (Net- Park) in Sedgefield, on Thursday, March 21.

Stewart Watkins, managing director of Business Durham, which operates NetPark on behalf of Durham County Council, said it would be a privilege to welcome Prof Cunningham and other highprofile speakers, including representatives from the European Space Agency, Telespazio Vega and the UK Satellite Applications Catapult Centre.

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Mr Watkins added: “Spacetech 13 is an opportunity for companies to reach for business opportunities in the stars and beyond.

“Delegates will hear firsthand from respected industry and academic space experts about the many opportunities for new products and services.

“It is aimed at companies interested in exploring these new challenges and those who are already involved in the space sector but would like to learn more.”

In June, NetPark hosted an event about E-ELT, an 11-year construction project that will be designed and manufactured in Europe and built in Chile.

The ground-breaking telescope will enable astronomers to probe and understand a whole range of phenomena, from Earth-like planets around nearby stars to the origin and development of the most distant galaxies at the edge of the observable universe.

To register for the conference, to be chaired by UKspace, visit spacetech13.north