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No Brexit in Space: Britain Backs ESA, Rejects MP's Call for a Homegrown Space Program

Nov 29, 2016 04:30 AM EST
British Astronaut Tim Peake Arrives Back In The UK
After quitting the European Union, the British government has expressed its utmost support to the European Space Agency.
(Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

After quitting the European Union, the British government has expressed its utmost support to the European Space Agency. In a written response to questions from the UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee published on November 24, the government said, "The UK's investment in the European Space Agency is an important part of our overall investment in space, from which we obtain excellent value.

"[ESA] is a membership organization which contains members from both within and outside the European Union, and the UK will continue to be a member of the European Space Agency after the UK leaves the European Union," Space News reports.

While this declaration of support from the British government, which comes a mere week before ESA ministers head to Lucerne, Switzerland to defend its multi-year funding package worth $12 billion, came as good news to the 22 nation-strong space agency, some Brits, however, feel otherwise.

Talks about Britain building its own spaceport have been making rounds in headlines of British press. But it seems that the government has other things in mind.

In June, Members of the Parliament moved for a national space program for UK. Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Nicola Blackwood, MP said, "The UK has, so far, only taken small steps towards launching a national space programme that would enable our innovative space and satellite industries to get the 'flight heritage' they need. Now is the time to take a confident leap towards that goal and build on the foundations of the National Space Technology Programme," the House of Commons reports.

It also pointed out that 75 percent of UK Space Agency's funds go through ESA, and although it acknowledges the fact that it does offer perks via industry contract awards, they still believe that a homegrown space program can deliver "an even greater return" on investment than what is realized through ESA, an article by the Aviation Week writes.

Previously, UK has rejected a parliamentary proposal stating that a national program should get its fair share of the government's space budget as well.

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