Stevenage ‘at heart of global space effort’ despite job losses threat

A satellite designed by workers at Stevenage's Astrium site

A satellite designed by workers at Stevenage's Astrium site - Credit: Archant

A minister has said a town’s satellite engineers will be “at the heart of the global space effort” despite cutbacks from their parent company.

Science minister David Willets, who has just announced plans to collaborate with the US and China on future space missions, made reference to Stevenage-based company Astrium, home to the ‘Space City’ where a quarter of the world’s satellites are built.

Mr Willets said: “In the old days it was Cape Canaveral. In the future it will be Stevenage at the heart of the global space effort. Stevenage is where we do our work on robotic systems. A lot of the technology for the Mars Rover vehicle, which the European Space Agency will launch in a couple of years’ time, was developed in Stevenage. We are in a very good position.”

This is despite Astrium’s parent company European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) announcing the loss of 5,000 job losses in Europe, including 450 in the UK, across Astrium and sister companies Airbus, Cassidian and Eurocoptor. However, it is believed that this will not have a major impact on the Stevenage site.

Astrium spokesman Jeremy Close said: “These cuts are largely consolidations of HR and administrative departments in order to make them more efficient and fit-for-purpose. Astrium is a really great place to work because it’s filled with brilliant and talented people and we are confidently moving in the right direction.”

The planned restructuring of the EADS companies will see them rebrand as the Airbus Group. Visit www.astrium.eads.net for more information.