A space engineering innovation hub launched in Surrey aims to combine academic research and commercial know-how with the goal of making space missions more accessible.

Collaborators Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), EADS-Astrium and Surrey University claimed the new venture would change the economics of space by developing missions faster and cheaper.

As an initial step, Surrey University is establishing a new research chair in space engineering at the Surrey Space Centre, sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering and SSTL.

Science minister Lord Drayson said: ‘Surrey is a shining example of innovation in the UK space sector, leading the world in pioneering new and more affordable approaches to space and its applications.

‘I applaud the imagination and commitment of the academy and SSTL in their investment in the future of Britain in space.’

Dr Matt Perkins, chief executive officer of SSTL, added: ‘SSTL thrives on innovation and close links with the leading academic institution in space engineering and small-satellites is essential for our continued growth and supplying the best value and capability products to our customers.’

Small-satellite specialist SSTL has built and launched 32 small satellites for Earth observation, navigation, communications and space science.

The Surrey Space Centre and SSTL are currently working on a UK-led small-satellite mission to the moon in 2012.