Tag Archive for 'human_spaceflight'

Getting open-minded about manned spaceflight

I stumbled across an article on a possible change to UK space policy [The Times], based on an interview with the recently appointed Science Minister, Malcolm Wicks MP.

From the article:

The Government’s long-standing refusal to fund manned spaceflight could be reconsidered to allow British astronauts to join expeditions to the Moon and Mars, the new Science Minister has indicated.

Britain will be an active participant in American and European projects to explore the solar system and should not automatically opt out of missions with human crews, Malcolm Wicks told The Times.

While there are no immediate plans to pay to send Britons into space, the presumption that such missions are always a waste of money should no longer apply, he said in his first interview since becoming Science and Innovation Minister in November.

It’s about time someone in government showed a degree of pragmatism. I reluctantly accept that the UK was right to cancel the bulk of its space programme in the last century – the economy simply couldn’t afford to sustain it and there was no way we could muster the resources to compete with the USA and USSR in their race. Yet, we now live in a completely different age. There is much more private sector involvement in space exploitation, there are many more space-faring nations, and much more of an emphasis on international collaboration. This doesn’t mean that we should rush into an expensive government-funded human spaceflight programme. On the contrary we should be careful to foster a home-grown space industry rather than throw tax receipts at a monstrous bureaucracy like NASA. Nevertheless the Minister is right to say that we should be open minded about astronaut missions and consider each on its own merits.