Stevenage space centre pays tribute to scientist Colin Pillinger

Professor Colin Pillinger

Professor Colin Pillinger - Credit: Archant

A space centre has paid tribute to deceased scientist Colin Pillinger.

Airbus Defence and Space, based in Stevenage, has paid its respects to Professor Pillinger, famous for his involvement with a failed Mars probe manufactured at the site in Gunnels Wood Road.

The 70-year-old was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where he died after falling into a coma as the result of a brain haemorrage, a family statement released today (Thursday) said.

He was best known for working on the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission to Mars, which was supposed to land on the red planet on Christmas Day 2003 to search for signs of life – but vanished without a trace.

A spokesman for Airbus, formerly Astrium, said: “We are all very sad to hear the news about Professor Colin Pillinger. Many current and former employees worked closely with him on the Beagle 2 spacecraft, which significantly raised the profile of space expertise in the UK.

“He was a determined and charismatic man and will be much missed by all who knew him. Colin’s relentless championing of Beagle 2 helped to consolidate a UK lead in science and engineering for Mars exploration which is a legacy that is continuing with the European Space Agency mission ExoMars.”