Tory and Labour Failure is Written in the Sky

It is laughable that a parliamentary report published yesterday said that, despite India’s huge economic growth, the British people should carry on giving it foreign aid until 2015.

Blue Streak, Britain’s operational space rocket. Cancelled in 1960 and now preserved in a museum in Germany.

A year after the aid stops, the Indian Space Research Organisation, with its budget of £1.5 billion, will launch its first manned mission into space.

India will become the fourth nation, after the USSR, USA and China, capable of human space flight.

This elite does not include Britain, and probably never will — which is a scandal because Britain should have been at the forefront of exploring the frontiers of space.

When the Space Age dawned in 1957, Britain was in the same technological league as the Americans and Russians. At that time, the Chinese and Indians were undeveloped countries propped up by the Soviet Union and Britain respectively.

The British Black Knight rocket was first launched on July 7th, 1958, and by October 1959 the sixth launch had reached an altitude of 455 miles, considerably higher than that at which the International Space Station now orbits.

Black Knight was, for a while, the highest-performing rocket in the world.

Britain had a world-class launch facility at Woomera in the Australian desert, and the thunder of rocket motor tests echoed across the English Channel from the High Downs static test site on the Isle of Wight.

But successive Governments, Tory, Labour and Tory again, lacked the vision to back the potential of British engineers and scientists.

Projects were cut back, axed and cancelled again and again. As late as the mid-1960s, the official view was that satellites — now a multi-billion-pound a year business — would never amount to anything.

The British satellite launcher project was cancelled, with the remainder of the Black Arrow hardware used to launch the one all-British satellite in 1971.

And what was left of the British space programme was swallowed up in the Eurocratic mess of the European Launcher Development Organisation.

Thus, as with computers, supersonic and passenger jets and the technological leadership of the world, all created exclusively by British brains, was allowed to slip away by short-sighted Governments.

And today, China and India, countries whose people who were at peasant level when Britain first reached beyond the sky, can now send men into space. Britain no longer has that expertise.

It’s a scandalous betrayal of British brainpower by greedy and corrupt politicians, who proved themselves more interested in feathering their own nest rather than securing Britain’s future as a world leader in space exploration.

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6 Comments

  1. When I went to the National Space centre in Leicester a number of years ago after it had just opened, I remember being told that our space industry was actually the biggest in Europe. This without any government funding and thus mainly dependent on export to other countries space programmes.
    Apparently the funding for the British involvement in the European Space Agency is drawn entirely from private firms apart from a number of universities which would would recieve government funding. Although the universities could of course just be re-investing money paid to them for space research. So we have all this capability, and no national drive on using it to expand our national interests.
    As for the launch site at Woomera, this echoes the lack of nationalist drive in realising a federation of Greater Britain. A commonwealth space programme of the white dominions would have shouldered the costs of space exploration and would have offered a vast amount of good publicity for the benefits of being part of the British family of nations. Learn from the past for the future if there is to be one.

    • 3 February 2011 – Isle of Man space industry named industry ‘model’

      “The Isle of Man’s space industry has been hailed as a “fascinating model” in recent market research.

      The US report, which was commissioned by the Manx government, said that the island was “punching above its weight” in competitive terms.

      It is thought that the global space industry is currently worth about $300bn a year.

      Space companies in the Isle of Man have generated nearly £400m over the last three years.

      ‘Vibrant industry’

      The report said: “The island’s strategy for space provides a fascinating model to foster hi-tech economic activities. I imagine other nations and jurisdictions will look to the isle to replicate its success.”

      The Isle of Man is the headquarters for 12 space firms which are involved in work such as developing space tourism technology and satellite communications.

      In 2010 industry analyst Ascend named the island as the fifth most likely nation to put the next person on the moon”.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-isle-of-man-12355647

  2. It truly makes you weep. The Lab/Con/Lib merryground has produced nothing but failure after failure after failure. Yet still the British people vote for these incompetents, traitors and crooks.
    Despite Cameron having now reneged on almost every pledge he made to garner votes before the last election the majority of people will still likely vote Conservative. People do not seem to understand what a complete disaster these parties have been for Britain since the Second World War.

  3. I have always dreamt of seeing shuttles with the Union Flag on their sides in space. Britain should be leading the way into the final frontier and not sliding into the history books of the EUSSR.

  4. I was once part of a study group that examined whether European nations, specifically the UK, could have placed men on the moon, as the Americans did. The answer unsurprisingly, was yes.

    An important conclusion that we reached was that national competition was far more effective than international cooperation in spurring human progress in this area.

    What is more, the industry and technological development that such an effort tends to generate, pushes the nation forward economically and technologically.

    There is a catch: for large scale space travel to become affordable, such that it is capable of growing into a serious national enterprise, the launch rockets must be reusable and nuclear powered. There is no practical chemical fuel with sufficient energy density to allow a reusable rocket to reach orbit with sufficient mass ratio.

    This has a lot to do with why space travel appears to be unaffordable.

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