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MPs call for British manned space flight

But no need for UK Space Agency

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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. ®

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