British astronaut: is there really any hope?

by | Nov 28, 2008 | ESA, International Space Station | 0 comments

Hyperbola has learnt that the minister’s advice (a report drawn up by civil servants that sets out the options) that was supposed to reach the then space minister Ian Pearson by October this year, and didn’t, could reach the new minister, Lord Drayson in January

Now called the Space Exploration Review, Hyperbola understands that it is likely to place any astronaut into the context of an overall effort by the UK to participate in robotics missions

The UK has increased its particpation in the 2016 ExoMars mission that is now, according to ESA chief Jean-Jacques Dordain, to be a joint endeavour between ESA and NASA. I guess in a similar vein to Cassini-Huygens

One good sign of the UK’s review is that Hyperbola has heard that it has involved economic consultants. This chimes with comments made to me by Pearson at a media briefing in February this year when I asked about the wider social, economic benefits of human spaceflight programmes

The gossip emerging out of ESA about its current astronaut-candidate selection (to find four people out of 10,000) is that there are about 20 British applicants, with a mix of people who are academics and military, still in the running

And now the joint Euro-Russian Crew Space Transportation System seems to have disappeared completely following he ministerial meeting, the prospect of a Dane or a Spaniard grabbing that fourth place after the French, Germans and Italians have got their man/woman in place has diminished

Coming back to the review, the key part of the, could this be the tipping point for British human spaceflight conspiracy theory, is that that review is being kept under wraps until an indefinite date after January, which means that it may form part of a wider negotiation with ESA on this new robotics facility that could be set up at the UK’s Harwell science Centre in Oxfordshire

Then again, it could just be that the UK government is simply waiting for a good time to bury the bad news that after talking up the astronaut game for so long they are ditching it. Well, we are facing a partcularly hard and deep recession, it would not be the hard thing to do, but the easy one

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