Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 10

Submission from the Space Foundation


  1.  Great Britain's historic investment in the Admiralty made her both prosperous and a leader among nations. Today a new age of space admiralty is upon us, and Great Britain's investment in space assets and capabilities are key to it remaining a vibrant and innovative nation. Space is the foremost medium for obtaining national means and capability across the full spectrum of civil, commercial and national security operations of government. Great Britain's peers, allies and competitors recognise this fact and continue to invest in space capabilities to position themselves for the future.

  2.  A strong space policy for Great Britain does not always or necessarily have to mean direct funding of programmes from tax receipts. The government can do many things, from collaborating with other nations to promoting private investment in space. By offering tax incentives and streamlining regulatory jurisdiction over the space industry, government can be responsive to the needs of the existing space industry as well as the emerging entrepreneurial space community. It is noteworthy that within this emerging entrepreneurial space community, Great Britain is already a leader in certain niche sectors—for example via the innovation of Surrey Satellite with its world-class small satellite programmes, or the efforts of Sir Richard Branson, who has established Virgin Galactic as a pioneer in commercial space tourism.

  3.  In addition to providing high-wage, high-skill jobs for the British workforce, vibrant space activities can assure Great Britain a leadership role in such emerging sectors as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and the products and services that will emerge through the fusion and integration of these economic drivers of the future.

  4.  Finally, there is an important humanistic and social aspect to Great Britain's space policy. Dating back to the time of Stonehenge and perhaps even earlier, Britons looked to the stars and sought to understand the fundamental questions of human existence. This desire for answers to fundamental existential questions continues to drive scientific inquiry, most especially and particularly in space. These activities in turn captivate the imagination, and inspire and propel young people throughout the world to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (the "STEM" disciplines). In the innovation and technology-driven economies of the future, competitive nations will be defined by a workforce steeped in STEM education. Space is unmatched in its ability to capture the imaginations and excite the minds of today's youth, tomorrow's citizen.


  5.  Elliot Pulham was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Space Foundation 16 January 2001, and leads this globally respected non-profit organisation in the pursuit of its mission:

    6.  To vigorously advance civil, commercial and national security space endeavours and inspire, enable and propel tomorrow's explorers.

  7.  Pulham leads the premier team of space, education, research and policy professionals providing services to educators and students, government officials, the news media and the space industry around the world. The Space Foundation is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has offices in Washington, DC, Cape Canaveral, Florida and Houston, Texas.

  8.  Mr Pulham brings national award-winning experience to a Foundation focused on creating public awareness and support for space endeavours, and on using the excitement of space to inspire academic achievement. Prior to joining the Foundation, he was for a decade senior manager of public relations, employee communication and advertising for all space programmes of The Boeing Company. As such he served as spokesperson at the Kennedy Space Center for a half-dozen space shuttle flights, including the Magellan, Galileo and Ulysses interplanetary missions. He is a holder of the coveted Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America—the profession's highest honour. In 2003 the Rotary National Awards for Space Achievement Foundation presented him with the rarely conveyed Space Communicator Award, an honor he shares with legendary CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite and CNN News Anchor Miles O'Brien. Mr Pulham is a Lifetime Member of Strathmore's Who's Who.

  9.  Mr. Pulham is widely quoted by national, international and trade media in their coverage of space activities and space-related issues, and his monthly column Space Watch: The View from Here enjoys a global industry audience. His non-profit experience includes having been Executive Director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, and Director of Corporate Communication for the Boeing Employees Good Neighbor Fund. Of part-Hawaiian ancestry, he is a 1973 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and an alumnus of the University of Hawaii. Mr Pulham and his wife, Cynthia, are annual underwriters of the Lucy Enos Memorial Scholarship for Teachers which, through educator professional development, serves children of Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian ancestry.

  10.  Mr Pulham is a member of the national board of advisors of the RNASA Foundation, a member of the board of advisors of the National Institute for Space & Security Studies and a member of the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force Civic Leader Advisory Group. A resident of Colorado Springs, he lives in Pinon Valley with his wife, Cynthia, and son, William. He is an avid downhill skier and motorcycling enthusiast, and spends his spare time outdoors in the Colorado Rockies and, whenever possible, in his native Hawaii.


  11.  The Space Foundation was founded 21 March 1983, "to foster, develop and promote, among the citizens of the United States of America and among other people of the world... a greater understanding and awareness... of the practical and theoretical utilisation of space... for the benefit of civilisation and the fostering of a peaceful and prosperous world." As a not-for-profit corporation working for the public good, the Space Foundation is granted tax-exempt status by the US government. It has its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado and additional offices in Washington, DC, Cape Canaveral, Florida and Houston, Texas.

  12.  As the global space community has evolved, so has the Space Foundation—embracing all facets of space—commercial (including telecommunications and other satellite-based services), civil, and national security. In fact, the Foundation is one of few "ecumenical" space-related organisations to embrace the totality of this community rather than focusing on a narrowly defined niche. This breadth of experience includes its long-standing service as part of the United States delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and its collaboration in Great Britain with the Society of British Aerospace Companies and its United Kingdom Industrial Space Committee—as well as past collaboration with the British National Space Council.

  13.  In the 23 years since its founding, the Space Foundation has become one of the world's premier nonprofit organisations supporting space activities, space professionals and education. Its accredited education programs have provided transformational training for more than 30,000 teachers in all 50 US states and several foreign nations. Another 20,000 teachers world-wide are currently registered users of the Foundation's on-line curriculum and more than 100 have obtained their Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction-Space Specialist through the Foundation. The organisation conducts two of the top three conferences for space professionals anywhere in the world today: Strategic Space and Defense is focused on the national security space and other strategic programmes of the US and its allies, and held in support of United States Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska. The premier annual space conference in the world is the Space Foundation's renowned National Space Symposium, which each April attracts nearly 8,000 space professionals from the highest levels of government, industry and academia from around the world to Colorado Springs.

  14.  Chairman Willis and all esteemed members of this important committee, on behalf of the Space Foundation and its Board of Directors, I thank you for the opportunity to present testimony that I hope will be of value as you commence this inquiry. I thank you for your time and attention, as well as commend you for the timeliness of this most important inquiry.

  15.  The Timeliness and Framework of this Inquiry

  Your inquiry is indeed timely. In just a few short weeks, The Space Foundation will release "The Space Report—2006: The Guide to Global Space Activity." This publication, a product of our research and analysis enterprise, has been nearly 18 months in the making and will for the first time establish a gold standard of reference on the breadth, scope, magnitude, impact and promise of space activities around the world. Although the report has not yet been released, I am privileged to share with you in advance some of its key findings:

  16.  The total revenues, or turnover, generated by global space activities in 2005 can be very conservatively demonstrated to exceed $180 billion US dollars. This is not an economic impact estimate, but rather a direct measurement of actual industry revenue. Due to our cautious methodology, this is a very conservative estimate. Further, due to our own financial limitations, the Space Foundation was not able to perform new and original research into certain sectors where we believe significant additional activity will eventually be revealed.

  17.  According to the report's newly created Space Foundation Space Index, which tracks the financial performance of the space industry according to carefully weighted investment community measures, the space industry between June 2005 and June 2006 grew more rapidly than, and financially out-performed, both the NASDAQ and S&P 500 indices.

  18.  The vast majority of space revenues are commercially driven and derived. Government investment and policy serves as a catalyst for the creation of new technologies, industries and knowledge which private enterprise then transforms to provide commercial products and services while creating new wealth.

  19.  Our report, when published, will run more than 200 pages in length and is extremely dense with data. However, for the purposes of your inquiry, I think these three top-level findings are very important. They tell us that the global space industry is very large, growing very rapidly, and transforming business and industry around the globe at a very rapid pace. Great Britain should not allow this phenomenon to pass it by.

  20.  Tradition and Tomorrows

  Great Britain has a proud tradition of exploring the unknown, making technological innovations, and helping the world understand space. As far back as 1576 when the British mathematician and astronomer Thomas Digges used computations to track the orbits of the planets as well as the true location of our sun, and continuing today with British-born astronauts Michael Foale (who has logged more than 370 days in space) and more recently Piers Sellers who flew this past summer aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station.

  21.  Modern British involvement in space is also non-governmental. Helen Sharman was the first non-US, non-Russian woman in space as well as Britain's first astronaut. More recently Sir Richard Branson has unveiled his Virgin Galactic company that will usher in a new era of commercial space travel. Virgin Galactic's first operating base, as well as the lion's share of its initial customer market, will be in the United States; accordingly the Space Foundation is actively engaged at the level of US policy in encouraging a regulatory environment that will favour the success of Virgin Galactic.

  22.  Much of Great Britain's history has demonstrated that nations thrive when they innovate and explore. This proposition requires a frontier to push against. Such a tension leads to all manner of technology benefits that help not only the pioneers themselves, but eventually ripple out to benefit all humanity. Since the dawning of the Space Age, the lives of humans the world over changed by the knowledge, technology, products, services, inspiration and hope that have come from the exploration of this final, limitless frontier.

  23.  I commend your committee for the timeliness of your inquiry. NASA has been given a new mandate to break the bonds of low Earth orbit and return to the Moon (this time, to stay) and to press on to Mars and other destinations within our solar system. The US Department of Defense has seen an ever increasing utility and value in how space assets aid our men and women in uniform. GoogleTM has helped make commercial remote sensing capabilities a common utility accessible to all. GPS provides the world with free and precise navigation and timing signals. Satellites provide television and radio services around the globe, to even the most remote locations, offering a rich and diverse set of programming. A new generation of entrepreneurs is actively developing new ways of getting people and cargo into space. As measured by revenue, fully 61% of this activity is commercial—new forms of commerce that are laying the foundation for the coming age. Knowing our good and close friends "across the pond" as we do (it was not mere happenstance that one of our space shuttles was named "Endeavour") we are certain that Great Britain will want to be at the forefront of this new age of "space admiralty."

  24.  What is at hand, and what is therefore indicated

  A comprehensive British space policy needs to take many factors into consideration. This brief testimony can therefore only touch lightly upon the many realities you must address:

  25.  Strengths

  Great Britain indeed enjoys many strengths in space. Your national space policy should play to these strengths. From our perspective, a principal strength is your university space research programmes. While this historic strength has been tainted somewhat by the recent failure of the Beagle mission to Mars, there is recognition that British universities have contributed consistently to the body of knowledge and state of the art. British scientists and researchers contribute to satellite technology and astronomy. These enable the nation to participate in a variety of international programmes and thereby leverage a comparatively modest national investment.

  26.  Another unsung strength is Great Britain's industrial base, which is highly capable and increasingly organised around technology clusters that support space. The activities of the Society of British Aerospace Companies and the United Kingdom Industrial Space Committee have done much to create opportunities and a positive impression in the global markets.

  27.  Weaknesses

  The lack of a visible and coherent national space programme, or well-funded agency, with clear goals, objectives and means, works against Great Britain in many ways. The British National Space Center is poorly funded, has a limited area of responsibility, and does not appear to be in the lead in any particular area. You cannot point to the "British Space Programme" with the kind of clarity that you can point to the US space programme, or even the Chinese, Indian, or Japanese space programmes. This creates a perception that the United Kingdom is not "in the game."

  28.  This posture leads potential investors to view Great Britain with some scepticism. The industry does not appear to enjoy much support from government. In Toulouse, or Bangalore, or San Jose—space companies know they'll enjoy a warm welcome, a relatively favourable business climate, and strong political support. There is no such sense where Great Britain is concerned.

  29.  Opportunities

  There are many great opportunities. The rejuvenated NASA space exploration programme is going to require international partners and participants. The small-satellite technologies being pioneered at Surrey Satellite, if properly supported by government, could shift the centre-of-gravity for satellite manufacturing from France and the US to Great Britain. As US defence budgets come under increasing pressure, there may be opportunities for Great Britain to develop an indigenous national security space capability by undertaking specific projects that jointly serve your Ministry of Defence and our Department of Defense. Our counsel would be to look at each of the three major sectors of the space industry—civil space, commercial space, and national security space—and identify a core capability that Great Britain can provide better than anyone else. In addition the nation should wrap the Union Jack around every innovative space project it can—from exported satellites to the space ships of Virgin Galactic—and cement a reputation as a space faring nation.

  30.  Threats

  The perception that Great Britain is not poised to compete with the finely tuned and highly focused efforts of competitor nations is a significant threat, and has been touched upon previously in this testimony.

  31.  Beyond that perception, we believe the single biggest threat to your ability to grow the British space economy comes, regrettably, from United States export control policy. Since the imposition of strict space and satellite export control regimes by the United States, companies in both countries have been injured. Close business associates are no longer able to speak with one another. Technologies that once flowed freely between the US and the UK have been fenced off. Companies that once routinely did business with each other have become isolated from one another and, in some cases, have closed their doors. US industry, because of financial self-interest in the outcome, has been ineffective in arguing for meaningful reform. We believe that high-level government-to-government discussions are in order, and that US policymakers would be receptive to hearing these concerns from a most trusted friend and ally like Great Britain.


  32.  In summary, the Space Foundation would once again like to thank Chairman Willis and all esteemed members of this committee for their vision and the time and attention that you are giving to this important matter. The economy of the future is, indeed, the space economy. There are many opportunities for Great Britain to assume a leadership position in this new "space admiralty," but the ability to seize those opportunities will depend upon having a solid framework of a well-crafted national space policy in place. We in the United States have been, and ever shall be, your friends. We look forward to strengthening these bonds of friendship. If the Space Foundation can further assist you in any way, we stand at the ready.

October 2006

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