MPs call for British manned space flight
But no need for UK Space Agency
MPs have called on the government to give the lead to the UK's space industry and expand its vision to include funding launches and even manned spaceflight.
The Science and Technology Select Committee, in a report amusingly entitled Space 2007: A Space Policy, says: "We have been impressed and often surprised during the course of this inquiry by the range of activities undertaken in the space sector in the UK."
At the same time, it says, there is a funding gap in the UK, a lack of strategic leadership from government, and the potential for a "skills shortage" in the sector. Perhaps they'll need to follow other sectors and import aliens to fill the gap.
The agency notes that the UK does not fund launchers to any significant degree or get involved in manned space programmes. The committee calls on the government to adopt a more flexible approach "to ensure the best science can be funded, whether that be undertaken by manned or robotic exploration".
It also calls for "appropriate regulation for the space tourism industry", and says there should be no "in principle" block on funding the development of launches in future. It is not clear whether this is a subtle suggestion that tourism be used to underwrite genuine research.
The full report is available here. ®
Sort out all of Earths problems? What the heck? Give the UK a frontier!
The UK seriously needs to end the ban on British astronauts. Helen Sharman was bankrolled by the Soviets, Michael Foale had to seek US citizenship status before he could fly on the the NASA STS system. This is a shameful state of affairs. We need a UK launcher system and a regulatory framework that will actively promote manned space flight.
To those that say that spending money on spaceflight is a waste of time let me remind you that it was the overview image of a blue and white Earth delivered by the Apollo 8 mission that largely created the mass psychology behind the modern environmental movement. Without spaceflight, we would not even have an awareness of man made environmental damage or impact.
Space activity consumes less than 1% of the US federal budget. In the UK we spend even less. Diverting such miniscule amounts to environmental causes and poverty alleviation will not solve the worlds problems. You can't create Utopia by imposing a travel ban people - and that's all the space travel is - just another form of human movement. Do you solve all the problems in your home town before enjoying a holiday in Europe or Asia? No? Then why ask the same of other forms of travel? The argument is completely absurd.
The UK must follow other Nations into space. We need to give our young people hope and opportunity instead of the endless reminders of the shames of Empire. There is enough platinum grade material in the asteroid belt to provide the UK with 10,000 years of cheap metal. A new industrial revolution is underway and yet again UK plc will miss out on the opportunity of the millenium due to a flat earth mentality.
Lets get rid of the tiny British National Space Centre and create a UK Space agency that is properly funded!
Ash. This is exactly why I don't recycle
In order to get space travel cracked (which is, as has been pointed out, essential for the survival of humans and whatever species turn out to be handy for terraforming), I have developed a policy of not recycling and in fact spewing as much crap into the environment as is humanly possible.
It's only when we finaly manage to FUBAR this planet by our activities that stupid hippies will finaly get the point, and realise that since they don't want to die suffocating in the vast toxic wasteland of polythene bags we will create, they actually quite like the idea of space exploration.
"Poison The Earth, Live In Space" is my new motto, and I encourage others to take up the cry.
Unfortunately, I am ~2000 trees to the credit in my carbon footprint, due to some planting work I did earlier this year in a rare foray away from the keyboard (really true, and more than you've done, you lazy hippy ;-), so I'm looking to offset this with some serious intercontinental travel later.
Maybe someone could set up a different kind of offseting scheme, you know, "Been environmentally friendly this year? Send us five pounds and we'll bury 6000 Tesco carrier bags in a lake", that would do the trick.
Poison The Earth, Live In Space, you know it makes sense.
Sounds like they've been watching too much Red Dwarf or even that godawful Hyperdrive