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2007: a space policy

That’s the title of a report issued this week by the Select Committee on Science and Technology of the British Parliament. The report makes a number of recommendations about the direction the UK should take in space policy. I have not had the opportunity yet to go through the entire report, but some of the highlights include:

  • increased support for early-stage space technology R&D;
  • a “flexible” stance towards human spaceflight and launch vehicle development, two areas that the UK traditionally has not participated in;
  • development of a regulatory framework to support space tourism;
  • increased public education of the everyday benefits of space.

One thing the report does not call for, though, is the creation of a formal national space agency, instead recommending that the UK’s current space office, the British National Space Centre, be strengthened by “improving its profile, leadership, co-ordination and perhaps a change of name.”

What isn’t clear, particularly from this side of the Atlantic, is how influential and effective this report will be. It does come out just as the UK government is in the midst of a reorganization led by new prime minister Gordon Brown; the UK’s new science minister, Ian Pearson, has been on the job since only early this month. In the US there’s a long history of reports collecting dust on bookshelves after their release, their recommendations never enacted—will this report share the same fate?

4 comments to 2007: a space policy

  • SurfinOnARocket

    Personally, I think we could learn something from the Brits and include more references to Hitchhikers and Star Trek in our reports….maybe then they wouldn’t just collect dust.

  • As usual it’s all words and no action. The bottom line is that BNSC gets funded with $400m a year, that’s the measure of how serious the UK government is about space. To just match NASA’s % of GDP level, BNSC would need to have $3 billion a year. Now that would buy an interesting space program for the UK.

  • anonymous.space

    “As usual it’s all words and no action.”

    And even some of the words are limp-wristed. What the heck does “a “flexible” stance towards human spaceflight and launch vehicle development” mean? The BNSC can now take meetings on the topic before they say “no”?

    Bleah…

  • It’s really quite a shame that the country which produced men like Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and James Cook have now decided that human exploration is not worth the effort.

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