Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 13

Submission from James Molony, Medical Student, University of Glasgow

  I am writing to you as an individual who has had a keen interest in space flight since an early age, and who would very much like to see the further pursuit of it by the British government. For the past two years I have attended the UK Space Medicine conferences held in Leicester; I have been fortunate to meet people that share my interest in the effects of space travel on the human body and how this knowledge can be applied to terrestrial conditions. However due to the lack of funding provided by the British government for this endeavour our group is very much at a crossroads, and needs to have a commitment from the British government to support us if we are to grow further.

  There are several reasons as to why I believe investing in a British manned space programme to be worthwhile, especially with regard to medical research. Foremost is the fact that the UK has a number of talented individuals who are interested in this area, but find themselves unable to act without help from the government. The personnel are there to provide the embryonic team of a dedicated manned space programme who simply need the support to do so. Learning about human physiology in space provides us with the answers to questions posed here on Earth and there could be in the future medical spin-offs from a British manned space programme.

  Speaking as a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, my country has realized the way space captures the imagination and have sought to utilize this for the past several years. The FAS "Science Challenge" programme seeks to use space to promote Science and Engineering in careers ( With science courses seeing a downturn in the UK the announcement of an investment in a field which is as much in the public eye as manned space flight might provide a catalyst for renewed interest in the sciences, providing a firm skills basis for the country in the future.

  I hope that these arguments, along with similar ones presented by my colleagues, will persuade you into realising just how important manned space flight is. The UK is at a crucial junction with regard to space medicine. The interest is there now—if nothing happens then these people might seek to go elsewhere to further their dreams and it will be too late. And that would be a shame.

October 2006

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