United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA)

UKSA to be Officially Created Tomorrow

United Kingdom Space Agency logoA few days ago I noticed a brief report on the evening news stating that the UK was to open a new government agency called “The United Kingdom Space Agency”, or UKSA for short.  At first I thought it must be April the 1st (Aprils Fools Day) as Britain effectively cancelled any idea of space exploration back in the 1970’s when the space program was terminated.

After a bit of hunting on the BBC website I found out that no, this wasn’t a joke but was in fact an effort to “…bring more coherence to space policy – something critics say has been missing for years.”

Here is a link to the original BBC article:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8579270.stm

Let us be clear – I welcome the UK’s involvement in space.

Does the UK have the Will to “Boldly go” into Space?

There are indeed many things that we actually do quite well regarding space technology in the UK.  I only wish that we did more.  The problem is that we neither fund space technologies well ourselves, nor offer appreciable financial support to other agencies such as the European Space Agency (ESA).

The BBC article makes this lack of funding abundantly clear.  In 2005 Italy spent roughly three times more than the UK on space related technologies.  In the same year Germany spent roughly four times more and France spent seven times more.  This amount of financial input is in no way related to the relative size of the economies of these countries and does show the UK’s relative lack of interest in the area.

While I applaud the effort to unify our efforts relating to space technologies under one umbrella, I have to wonder what an agency with a budget of £240 million can achieve in this area.  Space exploration is notoriously expensive.  Maybe the several hundred billion or so we spent on bailing out the banks recently could have been spent more wisely on a high tech industry such as this?

The UKSA hopes to achieve the creation of 100,000 high tech jobs with its limited budget and I wish them well, but I really wonder if the political will is there?  I just hope that the date of creation of the agency;  1st April, 2010, is not an omen.

Dave Felton

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