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back to article UK chancellor dishes extra £60m to European Space Agency

The UK is to spend an extra £60m to £70m a year on space technology, by upping its commitment to the European Space Agency (ESA). The Chancellor George Osborne announced today that Britain was willing to commit an average of £240m a year for the next five years to ESA, mainly in capital. The country currently gives the agency an …

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A fine move

....from the same people who a week ago were promising to stand up to substantial increases in European Union budgets.

A 38% increase in the budget for ESA is obviously a bargain as austerity starts to bite here at home, and think what we're going to get for this money: The Galileo sat nav system, because, well, because.

Any support for the ideqa of starting an e-petition on the No10 web site, asking for the public strangulation of Cameron and Osbourne?

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FAIL

ESA is not EU

Galileo is an EU project, not an ESA project. ESA is not the "Space Arm" of the EU. The two organisations are unrelated but collaborate on certain projects.

Even after the increase, £240 million a year is peanuts, considering the total size of the UK's annual budget (£682 billion for 2012).

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Re: ESA is not EU

Correct. It will also flow back via the "geographical return" redistribution which consists in dishing out contracts to member states in proportion to their pay-in (frankly an economically bizarre idea)

Still, what's it with politicians wanting to command that future technology come to their neighborhood, when they are quite incapable of even comprehending major economic upheavals?

Hold on, the ghost Freddy Hayek is at the door...

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It's a start

Clearly the Sky TV thing is daft and misleading, but even so, I can think of worse things to spend money on than investing in space tech. Choose sectors we can be good at, and stuff them with money. Then we might just be able to compete.

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Re: It's a start Oh no it's not!

"Choose sectors we can be good at, and stuff them with money. Then we might just be able to compete."

Yeah. The government picking the winners and backing them. A long history of success in that idea. Remember Harold Wilson's "white heat of technology"? BAe was one of the end results of the government backing winning sectors like aerospace. And as a result we can't even built entire aircraft ourselves, unlike (say) Sweden, France, Germany etc. Or nuclear power - a glorious and long history of vast state investment, subsidies and support, but our next generation of reactors will be designed in Japan or the US.

Government have already decided that "green" tech is a place for us to be future winners, and they've stuffed that with subsidies, but have a look at who makes the stuff, and where they make it. Again, we're not in the running.

Something's wrong, badly wrong, but expecting government to sort it out by choosing winners and investing in them is madness.

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Re: It's a start

There are sectors we're good at (and I don't just mean being the world capital of dodgy finance). Did government back ARM, Imagination, CSR, etc? Or did those companies rise on their own merits?

In terms of space, ESA may have its issues with bureaucracy (who doesn't?) but it does good work. It is one of woefully few institutions to employ scientists on decent pay, which'll be good for someone and might even help nudge one or two bright youngsters to go into science in preference to law or finance. When I worked at ESA (in a contract role, not an employee) in the 1990s, it was common knowledge that the number of Good Jobs going to Brits would be vanishingly small, and we'd be the dogsbodies.

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Maybe it would be a good idea if the government gave a fair proportion to the Skylon space plane project first.

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Mythical?

For the British Space Industry to be mythical it would have not not exist, it does and is alive and well, just not high profile. We build Satellites, components and payloads.

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Anonymous Coward

reap what you sow

I worked on the software for Ariane 4 in Surrey back in the late 80's. I'd left by the time Ariane 5 was announced but the contract for the flight software couldn't go to a UK company as we weren't contributing enough as Maggie didn't think it was worthwhile.

So while I generally hate the Conservatives (and their pet poodle) this gets my support even if it is an order of magnitude too small.

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Anonymous Coward

far too small

Of the EU countries which invest in space, Britain's chunk is the smallest, by a margin far larger than this increase. As a result the UK has been suffering a brain drain for years.

Things like SSTL don't count. That's a commercial venture - but paradoxically if the UK doesn't increase its investments, SSTL gets to lose out due to the EU rules about spending money in proportion to where it's paid in.

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Mushroom

Astrium and EADS

I suggest you look at those 'mythical' companies.

Then explain your agenda.

Oh, and then look at the 'mythical' satellites I have seen in places like Portsmouth.

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Megaphone

Misplaced money

Clearly this 60-70M£ would be better spent funding playmobil space projects which have been proved to be by far the most cost-effective form of space research. We all remember the massive success of PARIS, duplicated now several times by lesser beings. And LOHAN.

More funding for Playmobil research.

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