Lord Sainsbury says UK must seize opportuniries in space

Press Release From: British National Space Centre
Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Science Minister Lord Sainsbury today said the UK needed to make hard choices to achieve objectives set out in the Government’s next Space Strategy.

The draft strategy, unveiled in January, sets out three key priorities for the next three years to enable space to serve people as a tool for science, enterprise and the environment. They are:

  • Enhancing the UK’s standing in astronomy, planetary and earth sciences;
  • Stimulating increased productivity by promoting the use of space in government, science and commerce; and,
  • Developing innovative space systems, to deliver sustainable improvement in quality of life.

The Minister, speaking at an all-day public consultation at Queen Mary, University of London, told leaders from commerce and science:

"I believe there are many exciting developments in space today and many opportunities to provide benefits for our scientists, for industry generally, the space industry itself and for our citizens. We need to seize these opportunities, but we will only be able to do so if we are clear about our objectives, are creative in our strategies, and focus our resources."

He added:

"We are forced to look sharply at whether our activities fit our priorities. Making a strategy involves making choices, deciding what we want to foster and what, with the limited resources available to us, we have to leave to others. This can be hard."

Lord Sainsbury praised the UK space community for its strengths in telecommunications, global positioning and Earth Observation. He also lauded the achievements of scientists for their involvement in the development of the UK-led Beagle 2 Mars lander, which blasts off this summer.

But he said there was still a gap in delivering "down to earth" benefits from space by exploiting and delivering services based on space infrastructure and space derived data. He added:

"One of the core messages of the new strategy is that we need to see people building successful commercial enterprises, serving the public and private sectors, which are enabled by our investment in space. The role of space is to serve the citizen in many ways. The new strategy seeks to provide the best conditions for this to happen."

Lord Sainsbury also emphasised the importance of the UK’s role in the international space community.

"More than almost any other activity, space is truly international. This is a critical moment in the development of the world’s space endeavour. We work closely with our friends in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to achieve things that could not possibly be achieved alone.

"Central to the achievement of the UK’s objectives in space is the European Space Agency. ESA needs to make important decisions on its role and priorities and how it will work with the European Union. The UK will play a very active part in discussions on the Green Paper, the Convention on Europe and other debates."

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