The centre aims to attract more than 5,000 students a year and inspire the next generation of space technicians, scientists and engineers.

North Hertfordshire College will run the STEM education programme with Hertfordshire LEP contributing £1.039m to the total cost.

Work on building the centre is due to start in July and be completed by the end of the year.

The STEM projects fits in with Hertfordshire LEP's wider ambitions to regenerate Stevenage as part of the Stevenage First partnership programme and encourage more young people locally to consider STEM-related careers. 

Hertfordshire LEP chair John Gourd said: "We hope this will encourage more young people locally to undertake high level qualifications/apprenticeships in order that future workforce needs for key STEM related sectors can be met." 

The announcement came during a Ministerial vist to the ExoMars testing facility to witness astronaut Tim Peake driving the rover prototype “Bridget” from the International Space Station (ISS).

Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, tweeted: "Great British technology and powerful European space collaborations on display today in Stevenage."

Read the full press release here.

Learning Zone

The images show the viewing gallery, above, where the Mars Yard testing facility could be observed and the education centre which is hoped to inspire a new generation of space engineers.