UK plots new ‘Commonwealth network’ to squash EU, China and Russia in space race

EU space race: Expert discusses launching of satellites

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The Government has already invested half a billion pounds into Britain’s space industry this year as part of the new National Space Strategy (NSS). The NSS is designed to help the £16billion sector compete with Russia, China and the EU. New Science Minister, George Freeman, has bolstered that by announcing £440,000 of funding from the UK Space Agency will go towards research into astronaut health.

Mr Freeman said: “The Americans are chucking huge money at this. The Chinese are chucking huge money at it. The Russians have got their own programme.

“There are a lot of nations – Japan, Australia, the Philippines, who want to be secure in space, and don’t want to be vulnerable to Russia or the Chinese or bad actors.

“They want to be part of a network, a Commonwealth, if you like, of space scientists and businesses that are operating at the highest values.

“And I think that’s a big opportunity for the UK.”

The new investment will help to understand why and how the bones, muscles and eyesight of astronauts begin to deteriorate after just a few days in space.

This could play a key role in sending astronauts on long missions to the Moon and Mars.

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake said: ”It’s exciting to see this cutting-edge research taking place here in the UK.

“We can learn so much about the human body from spaceflight, especially the ageing process.

“This research could enable astronauts to carry out longer missions and explore further into space, whilst benefiting everyone on Earth.”

An important part of the NSS stresses boosting the UK’s ability to manufacture satellites but also launch them.

But Mr Freeman would not confirm he’d achieve Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ambitious target of launching the first satellite from the UK as early as next year.

Mr Freeman said: “I want to make sure that when we do it, that it’s an exemplar of what we’ve got here in the UK.

“It would be a shame, I think, to hit the target date and rely on overseas providers.”

Mr Freeman also said that the space industry could become one of Britain’s greatest economic strengths.

In an appeal to chancellor Rishi Sunak, Mr Freeman said: “The argument I’ve made to the Treasury, is that this isn’t frittering money on some sort of space play game.”

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The Science Minister also made clear that dodge any plans the EU may have to exclude Britain from exciting space projects.

He said: “If for any reason the EU play hardball and we’re not allowed to be part of those programmes, we will invest in making sure that those companies that have been very reliant on those programmes are not left out.”

This comes after Boris Johnson has already announced his ambitious plan to reenforce Britain’s status as science superpower back in June.

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