Submission from the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA)
NASA has enjoyed a long history of productive
cooperation with the UK particularly in Earth and space science
and primarily working though the British National Space Centre
(BNSC). Since the announcement of the Vision for US Space Exploration
in 2004, experts from NASA and the UK have been conducting exploratory
discussions in potential opportunities for enhanced space exploration
cooperation. These discussions have included bilateral meetings,
participation in international exploration workshops and conferences
and visits to the UK by the NASA Administrator and other senior
NASA officials with a goal of identifying areas for future mutually
NASA is continuing to follow developments in
UK space activities very closely and with interest, including
the activities of your committee. As such, I am pleased to have
the opportunity to provide NASA's responses below to the committee's
1. The UK targets most of its space expenditures
on the ESA programme. Would NASA welcome a higher level of funding
by the UK for bilateral missions?
NASA currently has a robust program of space
cooperation with ESA and also on a bilateral basis with the UK.
A key longstanding guideline for NASA's international cooperation
has been that contributions from any partner need not be equivalent.
As such, NASA welcomes mutually beneficial cooperation with any
organisation regardless of the level of contribution. provided
such cooperation has scientific or technical merit and meets NASA's
programmatic objectives. While NASA would welcome enhanced bilateral
cooperation with UK space organizations, it would not be appropriate
for NASA to recommend the manner in which the BNSC allocates resources
for space activities between national programs and ESA.
2. Has the UK decision not to participate
in manned spaceflight projects caused serious difficulties in
the relationship with NASA and the UK? Would a change in this
policy be necessary for the UK to contribute to the Exploration
NASA currently conducts space cooperation with
the UK primarily in Earth and space science activities. While
NASA would welcome enhanced cooperation with the UK in the area
of human space flight, a significant policy change is not necessary
to meaningfully cooperate in a mutually beneficial manner. For
example, NASA has recently entered into agreements with the Indian
Space Research Organization, which currently does not have a human
space flight program, for cooperation on an Indian-led robotic
mission to the Moon. The data from this cooperative mission will
provide unprecedented scientific insights into the lunar environment
and at the same time will assist NASA with its plans for the establishment
of a human presence on the lunar surface, Similarly, NASA's ongoing
discussions with BNSC have sought to capitalize on the significant
science and technology capabilities that currently exist in UK
government labs, industry and academia with a goal of identifying
specific areas of cooperation that are mutually beneficial and
can contribute to respective national goals for space exploration.
In summary, NASA has very ambitious goals for exploration that
integrate human and robotic activities over a wide range of disciplines.
It is not necessary for our partners to share the same broad goals
with respect to human space flight in order to benefit from bilateral
cooperation in space.
3. Has NASA found the "partnership"
nature of the BNSC structure to cause any difficulty in liaising
with the UK? To what extent would another structure be more effective?
NASA has a long history of very productive cooperation
with BNSC. Any potential issues regarding the structure of the
UK's participation in these cooperative activities have been addressed
by documenting our cooperation in written specific agreements
with clearly defined managerial and technical interfaces. Although
NASA would welcome a single counterpart agency that represents
UK civil space interests, it has not found that the current arrangement
has posed any particular impediment to cooperation.
4. How does NASA rate the quality of the UK
space community both in academia, in industry and in the commercial
user development sector?
NASA does not maintain such ratings for its
international partners. I would like to note however, that over
the last 10 years NASA has established over 900 international
agreements with organisations from 68 countries. Ten partners
account for 75% of these agreements and the UK is one of those