[FPSPACE] US-UK Space Venture Posed
Alex Michael Bonnici
albonnici at vol.net.mt
Sat Jan 27 03:13:05 EST 2007
NASA urges Britain to join it in space
from The Guardian (UK):
Alok Jha, science correspondent
Saturday January 27, 2007
The head of NASA has called on Britain to recapture its spirit of
adventure and join its ambitious plans to explore space with missions
to the moon and Mars.
"The voyages of Sir Francis Drake, Captain Cook and many others built
Britain into the greatest maritime power the world saw," Michael
Griffin said. "That was then the frontier. This era is fully as worth
supporting as was the maritime era."
Mr Griffin was speaking before a speech at the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Switzerland, today in which he will outline Nasa's plans to
explore the solar system and meet the challenge laid down by President
Bush in 2004 to get humans back to the moon and then on to Mars. By
2020, four-person crews will make trips to a permanent base on the
moon which will allow astronauts to stay for up to six months to
prepare for journeys to Mars. By 2030, pressurised roving vehicles
could take people on exploratory trips across the lunar surface.
While leaving NASA scientists to fill in the details of the
exploration strategy, Mr Griffin has been on a charm offensive. He met
the UK science minister, Malcolm Wicks, in an attempt to gather
support from British scientists. "The British space agency should join
with NASA. It is one of the marks of a great nation."
Martin Barstow, head of physics and astronomy at Leicester University,
urged caution on any collaboration and contrasted NASA's plans with
the European Space Agency's Aurora programme, which will also send
people to the moon and Mars. "It has had a long gestation period and
has been planned very carefully."
But he welcomed Mr Griffin's resolve in getting the point of space
exploration out to new and influential audiences. "You can't just look
at the science. There are broader benefits and the rest of the
operation - the economists, the educationalists, the other potential
beneficiaries of this - also need to be engaged."
He said that most of the money spent on space exploration was not
spent in space, but on the ground. "It's spent employing people in
hi-tech industries; those spin out into other commercial operations,
partly because of the skills base that's built up. It's more to do
with the overall upskilling of your entire economy. The real benefits
are much more hidden - it's in the way your industry expands."
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