Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 47

Submission from Dr Peter Hodkinson



  1.  I believe in manned space flight and further I think the UK should actively support manned space flight and its associated Earth based work. In this era of space tourism the UK should not be left behind and needs to develop and support expertise in Space Medicine and associated disciplines. The prospect of human space flight can be used to encourage people into the study of, and careers in, the sciences and engineering. Support for manned space flight would create a multitude of jobs in the UK and prevent further loss of highflying individuals to overseas agencies in pursuit of work within the field of Space Medicine.

  2.  I am currently undertaking my General Duties Medical Officer year with the Royal Air Force (RAF) at RAF Kinloss. I studied Medicine at the University of Edinburgh where I also took an intercalated BSc in Physiology. Prior to commencing the clinical years of Medicine I undertook a second intercalated year to pursue an MSc in Human and Applied Physiology at King's College London, which focused on the human body in extreme environments. I elected to do this MSc to pursue my interest in Aerospace Medicine. I will return to hospital medicine in February 2007 to work towards Membership of the Royal College of Physicians following which I intend to specialise in Aviation Medicine with the RAF. I have watched the UK Space Biomedicine Group from afar wishing I could be in some way involved but lack any Space Medicine experience, following this year's conference though I do hope to become actively involved in the UK Space Medicine Association in my spare time.


  3.  I believe in manned space flight for a number of reasons: it is a driver for new technologies; investigation into life on Mars, or perhaps more interestingly its absence, will shed light on our own existence; it is likely to be decades before robotics catch up with that a human can do and transmissions delays would render a human-in-the-loop from Earth for a Mars mission impractical; space flight is a novel environment for research and can provide insight into Earthbound diseases; manned space is inspiring and this enthusiasm can be harnessed to encourage children to study and enter into careers in science and engineering; there is clearly a market for space tourism; and manned space flight is of relevance to a great variety of people and industries in the life sciences, engineering, astronomy and materials science.

  4.  Further to this I think the UK should actively support manned space flight and its associated Earth based work because: UK research and academic institutions are among some of the best in the world and we should not be without a presence in the field of Space Medicine; current UK expertise in un-manned space activities would be well placed to diversify into manned activities; the UK needs something to halt the decline in students pursuing science and technology and the potential of human space flight can be harnessed to encourage people into these fields; it would create jobs in the UK—in medicine, basic sciences, allied health professions, astrophysics, engineering, and commercially; and it is astounding what the group of individuals running the now UK Space Medicine Association have achieved since I first heard Kevin Fong talk at his 1999 symposium on "The Future of Space Biomedicine Research in the UK" in-spite of demanding full-time jobs and a lack of UK support and the UK should be doing what it can to keep such people in the UK and to support their work. Although not a sufficient argument in itself to support manned space flight I do also find it astonishing that the UK, a nation with such strong expeditionary and exploring roots, does not take part in the manned exploration of space.

  5.  Britain should not be left behind in this second Space Age and I implore you to change the current UK Space Policy and support manned space flight.

October 2006

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 17 July 2007