MPs have led calls for the UK to develop its own national space programme after astronaut Tim Peake was awarded a CMG for his services to space research.
They have asked for the introduction of a space programme that will run in conjunction with the UK’s current participation in the European Space Agency, while a number of MPs have also requested action to address the skills shortage that it preventing growth in the sector.
Major Tim Peake’s six month International Space Station mission generated a great level of public enthusiasm which could lead to government action to breathe new life into the sector, according to the latest report from the Commons Science Committee.
Members of the committee have also put forward proposals of a UK space port that would be able to take vertical rocket launches, along with futuristic space planes that can take off horizontally. This idea has been at the forefront of its official plans.
Committee chair, Nicola Blackwood, said that Major Peake’s space adventure captured the interest of the nation, with the UK Space Agency estimated that around 24 million people watched the launch, with the interest sustained when he was in orbit.
She insists that work must now be put in place to ensure a follow up plan to keep people in the UK interested in space travel.
However, the report went on to say that the mission’s inspirational value on its own will not be enough to tackle the huge skills shortage in the sector.
Major Peake was able too generate great publicity for the country’s space sector, although the bulk of its activities are based on less renowned unmanned satellites in fields such as remote, broadcasting and communications sensing.
The space programme also delivers significant economic benefits, with an £11.8 billion annual turnover and a giving direct employment to more than 35,000 people.