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Satellite firm is in line to get slice of £80m space fund

KEEN EYE David Willetts during his visit to EADS Astrium in Hilsea yesterday. Picture: Paul Demuth

KEEN EYE David Willetts during his visit to EADS Astrium in Hilsea yesterday. Picture: Paul Demuth

 

David Willetts has been seeing for himself the work being done in Portsmouth to help countries communicate, monitor their weather, and stop illegal activity.

The universities and science minister, who is also MP for Havant, was in Portsmouth yesterday to visit EADS Astrium, in Hilsea.

He was given a tour of the facility’s satellite assembly and testing rooms.

Mr Willetts’ visit followed the day after he unveiled an £80m fund for UK firms to work with space companies in emerging nations, as reported in yesterday’s News.

He confirmed Astrium could benefit from the fund.

Mr Willetts said: ‘We already work closely with the US and France or even China on space, but if we want to grow our economy we need to work with countries like China, India and Mexico.

‘This is aid money that will go towards work that is for the public benefit for these countries.

‘For example, they might want to use satellites to monitor deforestation or illegal logging if that’s going on. We can work with them on those type of projects, with them hopefully putting in some of their own money.

‘But then they might invest in products and services and, as they grow, they might invest more and they might want to do this in partnership with us.’

Mr Willetts also met one of his own constituents – Jamie Madden, 19, from Purbrook.

Former apprentice Jamie is now a full-time fast track engineer working within EADS Astrium’s satellite Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) department.

He was joined by Jamie Francalanza, from Waterlooville, who is an apprentice on a three-year course with the spaced-based services firm.

Mr Francalanza, who is known as Frank, said: ‘I spent one year at college but I had no idea what I wanted to do.

‘I’ve always been interested in space, so I signed up for the apprenticeship here.

‘They put me back into college to do more focused work, and I’m really enjoying it.’

 

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