Submission from Nicholas Spall
UK SPACE POLICYNEED
FOR UK HUMAN
Further to your Committee's request for evidence
regarding UK space policy, I am writing to present my views in
relation to the need for a modest UK human spaceflight commitment
that is in line with other industrialised countries.
These opinions concur with the Royal Astronomical
Society's independent commission on UK human spaceflight policy
(2005), the Wakeham Microgravity Review Panel report (2003) and
the resolution of the British Interplanetary Society (2006) that
manned spaceflight involvement by the UK is important for the
Britain is the world's 4th-largest economy and
yet is the only G8 or industrialised nation not to have an astronaut
presenceeven countries like Brazil, India, Malaysia and
Turkey are developing human spaceflight interests. The nation
needs to reverse its currently negative policy on manned spaceflight
and become more flexible and broad-minded for good educational,
scientific and industrial reasons.
The benefits of a small-scale human spaceflight
programme would be:
most teachers and educators recognise
that human spaceflight is a very good "inspirational"
aspect of science and technology and the efforts to halt the decline
in science courses in the UK could be firmly assisted by a national
interest in manned spaceflight that is in line with the rest of
Europe (see attached article (not printed)).
2. SCIENCE AND
the 2005 RAS report identified how much
space exploration and science research requires a manned presence
(eg planetary surface drilling work, lunar radio-telescopes, bio-medical
research). The UK is already well respected in these broad areas
of space science and a manned interest for the future would enhance
because of its negative human spaceflight
policy, the UK has missed out in recent years with the European
aerospace industry's successful involvement with manned projects,
including the Columbus lab, the ATV cargo spacecraft and the more
recent Soyuz successor studies. A modest astronaut programme would
allow British companies to join with future industrial projects
undertaken by European and other nations for manned missions to
the benefit of the nation's economy and technical expertise.
My view, in line with the RAS, the Microgravity
Review Panel and the BIS, is that an affordable manned approach
by the UK is achievable and it would be a positive national investment
for the future.
A low-cost programme to fly two British scientist-astronauts
to the ISS on two separate missions as part of the ELIPS research
work could occur from 2008its total cost may be only about
£48 million over five years (see the proposal in the attached
article (not printed)) and it would form the basis of a long-term
UK astronaut corps, allowing the UK to eventually join with the
manned aspects of the ESA's Aurora lunar and Mars long-term exploration
Please do take these views into account during
your consideration of future UK space policy directions.
22 Spall N, British Astronauts, Spaceflight, October
2006, 48, pp 388-392. Back