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Ian Taylor, the UK's space minister, paid a flying visit to the European Space Agency - British National Space Centre pavilion yesterday with enough time to tell guests not to underestimate Britain's unsung achievements in space.

With a relatively small annual budget of £300 million ($460 million), the UK has achieved a high reputation for its scientific expertise and its efficient development of communications and Earth observation applications.

Taylor cites the UK's participation in many scientific missions, one of which is the Huygens craft which will land on the moon of Saturn called Titan, packed with a number of UK experiments.

Unable to resist reference to the ‘Mars Life' hype, Taylor says that the "...discovery had a lot to do with the Natural History Museum's carbon-dating expertise.



One of the biggest problems that Taylor finds in his job - which he took on after several anonymous predecessors - was " little appreciated our success is by people not directly involved".

Not surprisingly, one of his first objectives was to promote this more widely and to make sectors of the space industry more aware of what the other sectors were doing, to widen the understanding of how space can be used in all kinds of industries.

"We really do need to make users more aware of what others are doing," Taylor says.

This is particularly relevant in the remote sensing satellite industry which is about generating images from satellites geared to specific users, many of whom may have not even realised the potential in their business.

Taylor cites a " in Norfolk which downloads images directly from the European Remote Sensing Satellite to spread its fertiliser better" across vast areas of farmland.



The UK, says Taylor, is the "...largest single user of space technology and applications in Europe".

This has been achieved because "...we have been better in applying applications to users".

The BNSC has launched a CD ROM to explain the applications more widely throughout industry and in education.

Another problem Taylor confronts is the need to persuade ESA to reform and modernise its attitude, particularly its industrial policy which was geared to awarding contracts to companies in countries which were providing the most funding for specific programmes.

"We need to inspire competitiveness in Europe" and that policy has to change, says Taylor who complemented Jean-Marie Luton, ESA's director general, at a press breakfast on the progress that had been made. Luton says that he is reporting on the new policy to the space ministers of ESA member countries later this year.





Source: Flight Daily News