Lets hope that David Willets gets his way and there is a drive forward in the UK space industry. (See BBC article here) While the UK has done moderately well out producing satellites, the lack of foresight over the years has left the UK trailing a long way behind in many critical space technologies. This has cost us dear in jobs, wealth and technical innovation.
For example countries as diverse as France, the Ukraine and the USA make great profits from the their satellite launcher programs.
There are now new entrants as well. For example India now has a highly advanced launcher design and development programme. The Indian Space industry is pre-eminent in the Indian technological advance. The Indians know exactly how important this technology is to their progress.
We could have been in a lot better a position than we are now but for crass inane and short sighted decisions over the last 40 years. But, that was then. This is now. And bitching about the past is not going to achieve anything.
While the large monolithic companies dominate what there is of the UK space industry, there are, surprisingly, a whole raft of small to middling companies. Even humble enthusiasts have played a great part in keeping the UK space industry alive. What separates these new small companies from the monolithic monsters is the level of enthusiasm and ingenuity that they put into their work. Today they produce a startling array of sub-systems and some even have embryonic launch systems in development..
Sounding Rocket Services Ltd
Surrey University Space Centre
Then there are the larger mavericks like the on-going development of Virgin Galactics Launcher One
Don't forget the enthusiasts like Rob Harrison (See Earlier Post Here)
But all of these companies need support ( and I don't just mean money). They need acknowledgement, encouragement and a fair slice of the cake. In the past too much of the slender budget has been gobbled up by the big defence based companies that squander the money and have little to show for it at the end of the day.
If we are to progress and make this industry pay and produce jobs and wealth we need to nurture and support the smaller companies that are untainted be the dead thinking and bloated corporate cynicism that infects the large aerospace industries in this country.
We need to invest in and support the small dynamic companies that are driven by enthusiasm.
Even at this late stage we could, as a nation take a niche slice of the lucrative world launcher budget and we could create long term high value jobs and wealth.
To do this we need to think small and support the hard working can-do companies.
There should be no place blinkered politicians or bloated corporate monsters who have dismally failed to achieve anything worthwhile since the short sighted cancellation of Black Arrow in 1971.