£244m Contract For Stevenage Company

14 May 2012, 06:00

The Stevenage based company Astrium have just signed a £244m contract to research into space weather.

They will make a Solar Orbiter in their science lab on Gunnels Wood Road that will be launched into space in 2017.

This will study space weather, which is solar outbursts of particles and magnetic fields from the sun.

Dr Ralf Cordy told Heart says space weather can affect us on Earth:

"It can produce things like the famous Northern Lights but at its worse it can produce disruption to satellites it can produce disruption to power networks, communication networks on Earth"

The company are used to making regular satellites but Dr Cordy says this mission will bring new challenge and scientists will learn new skills.

Astrium were selected by the European Space Agency- Heart asked Dr Cordy if signing the multi-million pound contract will affect the Stevenage economy:

"Here in Stevenage alone its going to touch the jobs of hundreds of people, there is a core team of some dozens of people of which its their main job but many other people across the factory here will become involved in it over its development" 

Once the Solar Orbiter is launched it’s hoped to orbit the sun for around seven years.