Stevenage will be home to an exciting space project after Airbus were awarded a contract to build Europe's flagship space weather mission.

The project, named Vigil, will launch in 2031 and allow experts to accurately forecast space weather, with a spacecraft set to be placed into a solar orbit where it can observe the Sun, the Earth and the space in between.  

More than 150 jobs in the UK will be sustained by the announcement, which will put the area at the centre of one the European Space Agency's biggest projects.

Space Minister Andrew Griffith MP was in Brussels to oversee the signing of the contract.

He said: "The development of the Vigil space weather mission, right here on British soil in Stevenage, is a testament to our central role within the European Space Agency and our world-class expertise in space manufacturing.  "

He continued: "This mission will improve our space weather forecasts, protect satellites and the critical services they provide on Earth, and help build a safer, more sustainable future for space activities."

Patrick Wood, head of space systems at Airbus Defence and Space UK said: "Vigil is one of the most exciting and important space missions that will not only improve our understanding of the Sun’s behaviour but crucially provide us with earlier warning and greater precision about potentially damaging solar weather."

This latest feather in Stevenage's cap enhances the area's reputation as a hub for scientific development.