Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 72

Submission from Simon Pearce

  1.  I am a practising junior surgeon with an interest in trauma. I have long held an interest in aerospace medicine and have been fortunate enough to carry out a four-week rotation at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and I am one of the founding members of the UK Space Medicine Association.

  2.  As I understand it there is currently no UK involvement in manned spaceflight. There is also no support for space biomedical research in the UK. Furthermore I understand that there have been three recent reports concluding that it would be advantageous for the UK in human space activities.

  3.  Historically the UK has been at the forefront of exploration and discovery and this small island's history is felt throughout the world and beyond. I wonder if the committee appreciates that the artificial light/dark cycle of the international space station is set to GMT (despite being predominantly staffed by astronauts and ground crew from the US and Russia).

  4.  The UK also has an internationally respected reputation for scientific research endeavour although we seem to be ignoring the field of space medicine.

  5.  By not supporting manned spaceflight the UK is losing a large skillbase of professionals abroad. I wonder if the committee appreciates that the "Advanced project leads" for NASA and ESA are both British citizens (ex in the case of the former).

  6.  By not supporting manned spaceflight the UK is denying the future of today's youth many inspirational careers. I wonder if the committee appreciates the number of children who want to be astronauts when they grow up.

  7.  It is known that NASA has submitted several thousands of patents and serendipitous income revenues from their projects so far as well as the advantages gained in healthcare as a direct and indirect result of their research.

  8.  The company at the forefront of the new space tourism also originated in Britain.

  9.  There is a wide interest base in the field of manned spaceflight and the UK should not deny its citizens the right to participate.

November 2006

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