Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Where's Canada's "Ministry of Space?"

          By Brian Orlotti

The UK government has announced upcoming legislation to allow spaceports to be built in the United Kingdom; enabling the country, for the first time, to launch its home-built satellites from its own soil.

But the move calls Canada’s own longstanding space policies into question since, much like the UK, the Great White North has also long been unable to launch its own pioneering homegrown spacecraft and has suffered for it.

The new spaceport initiative enjoys broad support throughout the UK, even among tabloid readers. As outlined in the February 20th, 2017 The Sun post, "START SAVING NOW! You could fly to SPACE from the UK within three years as plans for space port are unveiled," the specifics of the new Spaceflight Bill "will be revealed in Parliament this week." Graphic c/o The Sun.

As outlined in the February 20th, 2017 UK government press release, "New legal powers could send UK scientists into space to research vaccines and medicines," the new legislation, called "The Spaceflight Bill," calls for commercial spaceports to be established across the UK beginning in 2020.

These spaceports will provide a variety of services, from satellite launches to space tourism to zero-gravity research.

The Spaceflight Bill builds upon a £10 million GBP ($16.3Mln CDN) grant announced earlier this month by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to create an environment in which the UK’s commercial space sector can thrive.

UK Lord Ahmad. Photo c/o UK Government.
Next steps will involve the UK government encouraging industry to come forward with specific proposals for space launches.

After introduction of the Bill later this year, rules and regulations will be developed for space operators i.e. safety and insurance matters. In addition, the UK government will invite individual commercial space firms to solicit funding to help kick-start a UK space launch industry.

The press release also quoted UK Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon as stating:
The UK’s space sector is the future of the British economy. It already employs thousands of people and supports industries worth more than £250 million to the economy, and we want to grow it further. Forty years ago, meteorologists couldn’t have imagined the importance of satellites for predicting the weather. Today over 90% of data used in every forecast comes from a satellite, with hundreds of other applications used in GPS, telecommunications and broadband. 
We have never launched a spaceflight before from this country. Our ambition is to allow for safe and competitive access to space from the UK, so we remain at the forefront of a new commercial space age, for the next 40 years.
The UK could have pioneered manned spaceflight in the 1950's,  landed on the Moon in 1957 and established a 700 person colony on Mars by 1969 according to Warren Ellis in his "Ministry of Space" graphic novels. Artwork c/o Chris Weston/  Image Comics.

In his influential 2001 - 2003 graphic novel series, "Ministry of Space," British writer Warren Ellis posits an alternate history in which the UK captured the German rocket base at Peenemünde in World War II before the US and the Soviet Union, and brought all the key personnel and technology to Britain.

The graphic novel mirrored the real-life Operation Paperclip, a secretive United States Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) program in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States for government employment from post-Nazi Germany.

Upon this foundation, a new "Ministry of Space" is established to pursue the development of British space technology. Eventually, the ministry forges a new off-world British Empire, ushering an age of unparalleled prestige and prosperity for Britain.

Canada, with its own federal space program withering and its space industry unable to launch its own products despite possessing a skilled scientific and industrial base, stands at its own crossroads. The UK has chosen to see space as a path back to prosperity, not an expense to be minimized.

What choice will Canada make? When will our "Ministry of Space" emerge?
Brian Orlotti.

Brian Orlotti is a network administrator at KPMG and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page