We are world leaders in hi-tech as well as heritage

Ewan McGregor  as Renton in Trainspotting - the gender neutral toilets Zella has visited are almost as grubby

ZELLA COMPTON: Men – just aim it in the right direction and we’ll all be happy!

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Portsmouth firm Astrium’s latest project is out of this world – literally.

More than 500 of its workers have been involved in building a satellite which was launched aboard a rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday.

And their involvement doesn’t stop there.

Once in space, the satellite – which was built using parts from all over the world – will be operated from Portsmouth for the next 15 years.

It is perhaps hard for the layman to fully understand just what is involved in constructing and operating a satellite.

We may benefit from the technology in our daily lives, but how they are made and work is a bit of a mystery.

Judging by the company’s reaction, the multi-million pound project is one that they and indeed the whole city can be very proud of.

As James Hinds, payload product group manager for Astrium in Portsmouth, said: ‘A lot of people put many hours into this.

‘This was a very complex project – one programme can take two years to get right, and so I feel a sense of huge achievement.

‘And I’m excited the team is capable of doing something so great.’

So are we James. It’s a real feather in Portsmouth’s cap.

We know the new satellite is due to play a vital role, delivering communication services across America, Europe and the Atlantic Ocean.

SES operates satellites used by Sky TV and as well as TV broadcasting, and the satellite will support mobile communications and other digital projects.

Astrium is a leader in its field and this story is a powerful reminder of the hugely important role being played in the satellite industry by people in the Portsmouth area.

At a time when we’re celebrating our rich maritime heritage with the opening of the world-class Mary Rose Museum in the historic dockyard, we shouldn’t forget that we’re also world leaders in the technologies of today and tomorrow.