Report to say UK faces uncertain future without space

London
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This story is sourced from Flight International
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The UK's standing in the world and the way space industry investment can enhance it will be set out in the government's Innovation and Growth Team for Space report being published in January 2010.

The report will predict how nations' space industries in 2030 will affect their position in a world order expected to be defined by the ability to exploit space.

Whether the UK is a leading nation or a just a user of space-based systems over which it has no control will be examined, based on decisions that could be made for regulation, financing, research and development and government support.

The team's industry members point to the Nigerian government's space department being five times larger than its UK counterpart as an example of how developing countries have overtaken the G8 nation.

In August South Korea launched its first satellite but it failed to reach its correct orbit. The UK successfully launched its first satellite Prospero in 1971 and then abandoned its launcher programme, but Prospero is still in orbit 38 years later.

"We want [from the report] a compelling agenda on what has to be done," says the team's chairman and Logica chief executive Andrew Green. As well as a steering group the team has five subcommittees for public awareness, delivering public policy through space, market analysis, capability facilities and technology and the fifth is finance and procurement.

The team is running parallel to a 12-week consultation on how the UK government's civil space activities can be funded and managed.

The UK civil space activity co-ordination body is the British National Space Centre (BNSC). The BNSC is a federation of government departments, an arrangement now criticised by government and industry as unfocused and inadequately resourced.

Industry sources say that opportunities with a number of countries have been lost due to a lack of BNSC resources.

Russian collaboration ended over an insistence by BNSC to use an agreement signed between the UK and the Soviet Union, with the Russian authorities arguing that the Soviet Union no longer existed, while a lack of funds ended co-operation with China after five technical meetings.