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back to article Blighty might have astronauts in future, says UK gov

The UK government is to reconsider the idea of British astronauts, after deciding 22 years ago that there would be none. The BBC reports today that a new review of manned spaceflight will be carried out by the British National Space Centre (BNSC) - a government body - as part of the new space strategy. The BNSC will report on …

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Britain has an excellent track record in space exploration

Britain has been involved in several important space exploration missions in recent years, including extensive participation in the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. British astronomers designed some of the instruments on the Huygens probe, which landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. And British astronomers are members of several science teams for the Cassini orbiter itself.

This kind of investment in space exploration pays far larger scientific dividends, for a much smaller investment, than any hare-brained scheme to produce British astronauts. The only reason the government is interested in having astronauts is national willy-waving.

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Unhappy

I've seen no suggestion of the UK building its own manned spacecraft.

Two European astronauts are aboard the ISS at present. It's our choice that no UK citizens will ever visit it.

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Alien

Money for Nothing and Everything ...and the Rock Chick Chips/Rock Chip Chicks for Free.

"A Briton keen to get into space would probably have a better chance of doing so by becoming a billionaire biz kingpin and buying his or her way into orbit than by trying for a future British astronaut programme."

For a very Modest Seven Seven Figures Sum can that be Immediately Seeded. A Fact well known to those who would be Power Breakers, Deluded with Power, rather than ITs Power Brokers.

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Black Helicopters

Guy Fawkes had the right idea

He tried to start the UK manned space program a long time ago.

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Anonymous Coward

@David Harper

If you are a British space scientist you really need to get wiser.

You can't claim "Britain has an excellent track record" when world+dog can still remember the Mars lander which went AWOL, to the amusment of the nation. Simple no-no.

Claiming "Britain has been involved in several important space exploration missions in recent years" plays into the politician's hands, i.e. what more do you want they will ask? It becomes a reason for avoiding further funding. What you might need is an Alien Grey narrative that will scare the government into parting with the cash.

Claiming that a little space exploration pays larger dividends sounds totally implausible to the man in the street. The manufacturing process that can be done (or better done) in space rather than on terra firma has yet to be shown him. How about a diamond-making process? Or money-printing?

Finally, let's recall that science = observation + thinking. Just because some countries are tooled up for the former, it doesn't mean they can do the latter.

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Flame

Nice sense of national priorities

Our telescope programmes are being gutted and hanging on by a thread, we've pulled out of a major particle physics project on grounds of cost but we've got moeny to pull a suitably telegenic Brit in the World's most expensive tin can to do - ermmm...

I can't remember which hapless government minister was on the news this morning saying that satellite programmes were of great use because they let people play the Lottery. Which, even if it were true, has nothing to do with Dumbo the ISS White Elephant.

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Lets see....

Send a couple of people into space, or keep a hospital or two open....tough call

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Dom

The established route

The established route into space for Britons is this:

1. get a pilot's licence

2. get a PhD in science or engineering

3. move to the US

4. acquire US or dual citizenship

5. apply to NASA.

Has worked so far for Michael Foale, Piers Sellers and Nicholas Patrick.

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Alien

In IT 2 Win 4IT2

Does the Lottery wish to Fund AI Civil CyberSpace Mission with a Jackpot Winner?

Or is that too TechnICQ Avant Garde?

An Innovative Grant First to be Chronicled in Media Interests, Seeded by ITs Jackpot Winner.

"Claiming that a little space exploration pays larger dividends sounds totally implausible to the man in the street. The manufacturing process that can be done (or better done) in space rather than on terra firma has yet to be shown him. How about a diamond-making process? Or money-printing?" .... By Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 14th February 2008 13:43 GMT

Then one merely needs to show him .....

A.N.Other web developer's perspective

By amanfromMars

Posted Thursday 14th February 2008 10:03 GMT

Steve,

That surely opens up another Market/Cash Cow to Milk with Immaculate Supply of Additional Code .... to Internet Explorers. ........... Generating Currency Flows for Intellectual Energy Creation

Life-Giving Source.

And it may be no more Complicated than Sharing One's Own Deeply Personal and Personable Journeys. .....

"I'm a stenographer of my mind. I write down what passes through it [as I go through it], not what goes on around me . I'm a poet .....Alan Ginsberg.

http://comments.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/13/firefox_3_beta/

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Nunt Gruttok

They should convert another reliant robin into a space shuttle.

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Coat

Nobody has mentioned ....

global warming yet? (or fuel duty?) ........ cynicism fatigue is setting in ...

Hat ..Raincoat /anorak/galoshes /wellingtons.

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@Anonymous Coward

"You can't claim "Britain has an excellent track record" when world+dog can still remember the Mars lander which went AWOL, to the amusment of the nation."

One failure, however public, does not invalidate my point that Britain has been involved in a number of very successful international collaborations in unmanned space exploration over the past thirty years.

Yes, Beagle 2 failed, but Mars is a notoriously difficult target for soft landings, as the Americans and the Russians have also discovered over the years.

"Claiming that a little space exploration pays larger dividends sounds totally implausible to the man in the street."

I'm not talking about commercial spin-offs. I'm talking about pushing the bounds of human knowledge, exploring our Solar System to learn more about our amazing universe, because that's a worthwhile human endeavour.

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Tim
Paris Hilton

We could stick a Britain on the moon...

... for the money wasted on the ID database/card and the other billions wasted on government projects and screw ups.

But the reality is the only ways for a Brit to get into space is to...

1) Be a millionaire and pay Mr. Branson for a ticket

2) Be a millionaire and pay the Russians for a ride

3) Have American ancestry, know the right people, and become an American citizen, and ideally have 20/20 vision, perfect physical fitness and be a member of the US military.

Everyone else, forget it. Best hope is to star gaze with the rest and even then have to beg, steal and borrow to get funding or use of other country's facilities.

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Alien

does the UK have any space program at all?

Does the UK build ICBMs? Sounding rockets? Satellites? Anything? Does the UK *do* space?

Building instruments that go aboard somebody else's probe isn't much of an accomplishment. Either you do space or you don't. Astronauts are the least interesting part of a space program, even though there's virtually no purpose for space exploration if you don't send people. If you're not doing space, having a few astronauts is just a waste of money.

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Pirate

Simply Never Happen

Our country has long been run by a bizarre combination of Oxbridge history of art graduates in Westminster and rapacious superaccountants in the city. Science simply doesn't figure anywhere in their plans, and never will - look at yesterdays bollocks about adding 5 hours of 'high-end culture' to the school curriculum per week, it's insane.

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Alien

We're Off To Button Moon

It sounds like any aspiring British astronauts stand about as much chance as getting into space as if they Followed Mr Spoon, as they do through any other means.

@aManFromMars..

eh? am i missing a plugin that will render your comments readable??

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Flame

Machines do not explore

Exploration needs human beings.

Sending unmanned probes, robots etc is valid and important scientific investigation. This country does not participate in exploration and has never done so.

Considering the history of the UK, this is an extreme departure. People from here have been exploring the planet for centuries. We seem to have turned our backs on the past - and the future.

50 years ago, we started to let the USA and USSR explore. The money we "saved" has never been used to feed the poor, house the homeless, the NHS, overseas aid, or any other valid cause. It has been frittered away on beurocrats, big government and political white elephants.

We could put billions into space exploration and worthy causes need not loose out. They could cut back even larger figures from parliament, Whitehall, and other wastes of money. Will they do that though? No chance!

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Alien

A Modest Proposal

(And hardly the first, I am sure.)

Put Parliament into space - all of them, voluntarily or not. Once they are there, they can vote funding to develop a means of returning them to Earth, or not, whatever they please.

I have often proposed that if we in America can put one Senator into space, we ought to do it for all of Congress, and the Administration as well, for much the same reasons.

The Grey, for obvious reasons.

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Re does the UK have any space program at all?

Anonymous Coward asks: "Does the UK build ICBMs? Sounding rockets? Satellites? Anything? Does the UK *do* space?"

Yes, the UK has "done" space since the late 1950s, when a pioneering group in the department of physics and astronomy at University College London began designing and building small satellites which were launched on Skylark rockets from Woomera, in Australia. The first of these satellites was launched in November 1957, only a month after Sputnik 1.

The UCL group later became the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, which has contributed high-tech scientific instruments to a number of NASA and ESA missions, including Ariel 1 (1962), Orbiting Solar Observatory (1969), Solar Maximum Mission (1980), Giotto (1985), SOHO (1995), Cassini-Huygens (1997), Cluster II (2000), Mars Express (2003), Rosetta (2004), Venus Express (2005) and Hinode (2006).

Britain may have quit the rocket-launching game in the late 1960s, but our scientists at UCL, the Open University, Queen Mary University of London, Imperial College London, Leicester University, and others, are respected by their American and European colleagues for the expertise that they bring to a wide range of international space missions.

Britain has "done" space for fifty years, and we're still damn good at it.

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Boffin

@AC - does the UK have any space program at all?

We do build satellites. Got some big experts in it at Surrey University. Such good experts that I was reading about the NASA engineers coming over here to be trained in how to do it. (May even of been an El'Reg article?)

We build the technology and use our brains on the tech. It's our scientists that are "in space". But this does not get any of the sexy coverage that a human in space does.

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Concentrate on unmanned exploration

Saves a lot of money and gets better science. I just wish NASA would do the same with my tax money :(

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Re: Does the UK do space?

Yes, surprisingly, the UK does space, and has done for a long time. Have a look at Surrey Satellite Technology http://www.sstl.co.uk/

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@Mike Richards et al

Au contraire. I think it's an excellent idea.

In fact, we should build a spacecraft many times bigger than the shuttle. We should call it the 'B' ark and fill it with neds, benefit junkies, 'elf 'n safety executives and 'managers' from the NHS.

All of this, of course, after persuading them that a horrible fate is about to befall earth and that they're the lucky ones for 'getting away' first.

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Happy

Space argument

The idea of British astronauts sounds too much like 'Space Argument' from 'Modern Toss' to me

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Alien

Nice

Nice , they obviously found a couple of Blue Streaks in store and are busy strapping on those Morton Thiokol shuttle booster add ons to get the dog off the pad !

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Coat

Re: Does the UK do space?

Everyone knows the UK does space. Haven't you heard of Major Tom and Rocket Man?

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Anonymous Coward

It is not rocket science

oh wait.

Can't we just fire unmanned things at the moon, and then drive them round using the satellite links. How about a Monty Python style bus linked together using the web?

The could be quite good fun, and last time we got teflon, who knows what else they might come up with.

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Using Near Light Speed Propulsion Concept Just Unveiled

The British could again be the foremost in exploration !

http://nlspropulsion.net

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@Tim, et all

There's another way for a Brit in space. Have Chinese ancestry; apply for a ride on Chinese spacecraft in the name of international cooperation !! Helps if you look good for the media !!

As far as China is concerned, all persons of Chinese ancestry are Chinese by definition even if they have foreign citizenships.

FYI, the first Chinese in space is someone called Leroy; a perfectly good Chinese name !!

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