The officially named UK Space Agency has been created with the assistance of a British astronaut, Major Timothy Peake. But with the country in a recession, is it possible this isn’t the right time for Britain? Several experts are saying yes, despite economic woes.
Though several political spokesmen, including Lord Drayson, the business secretary, did say “I think it is important to remember that although it is cutting edge, this stuff is not sci-fi. It may start in space, but it comes down to Earth very quickly and is directly relevant to all our daily lives.” The quote was an important one to the British public stating that the agency would not be a massive financial dump running on the hopes and dreams of a futuristic tomorrow, but would be a serious research agency that would provide real results and solve real problems that Earth has to deal with every day.
Though it is considerably smaller than NASA, the UK Space Agency is promising to be compact and above all else efficient in its space-faring endeavors, replacing the British National Space Center which is now out of date and unable to undertake future missions.
The agency should not be confused, however, with the European Space Agency, which undertakes larger missions too vast for any one country to fund without breaking the bank. The British Space Agency will provide a specialization on areas such as telecommunications, satellites, robotics, and other endeavors which will be able to assist the quality of life as well as economic interests on Earth.
And the economic boon it will grant the United Kingdom will be substantial as well, promising (according to Lord Drayson) approximately 100,000 jobs and growing to a full fledged industry in its own right, defying a global recession with the equivalent to tens of billions of US dollars.
The British Space agency has enjoyed considerable success in the past, making a huge mark in both scientific research and industrial growth through industries driven by satellites. It has long been a point of contention that the UK would be left unprepared to compete with space faring agencies if it did not make the move to develop its own space agency and merely depended on the research of others. So far, the United Kingdom has been the only global superpower that has not had a space agency of its own until now. And with technology closing the rift quickly between human beings and the stars, it seems the global superpower will finally have the means to keep up with changing times when space will be a major factor not only in military and scientific endeavors, but economic ones as well. This decision was, after-all, a move made during a time of extreme financial duress for Earth. Perhaps as new industries crop up off-world, so will new opportunities for countries such as the UK to compete and yield results.
But there is another factor here, one that has been largely overlooked. The world has for the first time ever reached a point where space travel seems to be mandatory for economic survival. This was the turning point, according to several scientists, when space travel would be taken seriously. And it makes us wonder about the move to cut funding to NASA all the more.