Saturday, March 27, 2010
I missed this in Thursday's Herald. It is the last letter & I had come to expect them not to publish. It is published exactly as I sent it in.
Britain has a new space agency. The government have provided £12 million to build a new HQ in Swindon. This is twice the Ansari X-prize for the first private launch into space which started Virgin Galactic. Unfortunately the government aren't actually providing any more money for space itself. Virtually all our present money goes to Europe for a space programme which, with 15 times the budget of Russia, clearly wastes rather more than 14 15ths.
It is not that the government doesn't know how important space development is. At £6 bn a year it is one of our very few successful & growing industries (9% a year). If government would put the money spent on Europe into X-Prizes like the one mentioned Britain could easily be the world leader in this industry. Nobody in government even denies this would work (in any case it would cost nothing if it didn't, such being the difference between prizes & most government spending.
We are on the ground floor, literally, of an industry that is transforming the human race & the total role of our government is to carry out a Mori poll showing the public understand how important this is & as a result announce a token new "agency" keep funnelling money to the usual bureaucrats.
reference - govt report http://www.spaceigs.co.uk/documents/index/index/cPath/14_25/ ref to the Mori poll on page 68
UK X-Prize Foundation proposal http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/09/british-space-consultation-my.html