As the countdown to Major Peake’s return to Earth on the 18 June begins, the Commons Science and Technology Committee, which Nicola Chairs, finds a buoyant UK satellite and space sector, poised for greater economic success in its Report in to Satellites and Space. The Committee warns, however, that Major Peake’s Principal mission must be a call to action, and a catalyst to drive the UK’s development of a national space programme and spaceport.
The UK is recognised as a world leader in small satellites, but a lack of ‘flight heritage’, due to a dearth of flight opportunities, risks holding back development. The report recommends that the Government swiftly addresses the missing piece in the UK’s space ambitions and establishes a national space programme, sitting alongside the UK’s existing contributions to the European Space Agency.
Nicola says: For the last six months, attention has rightly been focused on Major Tim Peake and Britain’s role in human space flight. But it’s important to remember that our space and satellite SMEs also need to access space, usually via unmanned missions, in order to test the innovative products they’ve been developing, like the small satellites used to observe the changing biology of the oceans. Without this ‘flight heritage’, space SME’s struggle to get their ideas out of the lab and successfully commercialised.”
The UK has, so far, only taken small steps towards launching a national space programme that would enable our innovative space and satellite industries to get the ‘flight heritage’ they need. Now is the time to take a confident leap towards that goal and build on the foundations of the National Space Technology Programme.