Feeds

Royal Society calls for UK space agency

BNSC just not up to the challenge

Remote control for virtualized desktops

The Royal Society has called for a new UK space agency to be established to replace the British National Space Centre (BNSC). It says the BNSC has neither the authority nor the funding to represent the UK's space scientists on a national level.

Royal Society president Martin Rees said: "A UK Space Agency would have the authority to implement a national space strategy and raise the profile of scientists and industries working in the space sector. It would essentially provide a 'one stop shop' for UK space science activities."

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the largest funder of space science in the UK. It has just been merged into the new Science and Technology Facilities Council, and Rees argues that this gives the government the perfect opportunity to rethink the way it funds space science.

Rees said a dedicated UK space agency would also be able to raise the UK's profile in the international space community.

"No European country can afford to go it alone," Rees said. "Collaboration is a cost effective means for the UK – which currently constitutes a small but specialist component of the global space community – to be involved in high-profile projects."

But the Royal Society argues that the UK is losing out on the international stage to countries with properly funded national space agencies, which fight harder for their national best interests.

The Royal Society also attacked the UK's relatively small role in European space efforts. The UK contributes just seven per cent of the European Space Agency's (ESA) budget. France chips in 25 per cent, and Germany 20 per cent.

The scathing attack on the BNSC was issued under embargo late last week, just days ahead of the government's announcement of a new deal between the BNSC and NASA. The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday to increase collaboration on exploration of our solar system, that could even lead to UK astronauts being sent to the moon.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Society said she thought it was unlikely to alter the organisation's position. "This is just a one off deal. I can't see how it would drastically change anything," she told us.

Indeed, the Royal Society's policy group said it welcomed the move as a "step in the right direction", but added that it remained convinced that "future partnerships would be better served by a well coordinated, high profile UK space agency –  to match NASA –  rather than a loose partnership of nine government departments and research councils which currently makes up the BNSC."

The BNSC issued a statement in its defence, saying: "The BNSC combines the best points of, on one side, a space agency which offers a holistic focus across various space activities and, on the other, a fully devolved arrangement which gives strategic ownership to the lead department.

"Of course, no organisational form is permanent, and the government remains open to ideas to improve the current arrangements." ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.