Great British myths, King Arthur and the more outlandish notions of British astronauts

by | Feb 20, 2008 | History | 0 comments

There has been plenty of myth making by the UK media in the past week as they fall hook, line and sinker for the New Labour government’s spin on human spaceflight and the UK

Just as the British monarchic Tudor dynasty of Henry VIII fame loved the King Arthur of the ancient past – Henry had a deceased older brother named after the mythical King of the Britons – this government likes to link itself to the improbable future of Brits in space

Back in 1987 Flight International reported on this British Aerospace (now known as BAE Systems) proposal for a UK built manned capsule to fly atop the European Space Agency’s Ariane 4 (now retired)

That was back when the UK, under the Conservative government, was thinking about a human spaceflight future but opted out of any involvement in the space station proposals subsequently followed by ESA and NASA at the time

Today the UK spends about $400 million a year on civil space activities and that has been the case for some time and there is no indication that that will change

The British government only wants to fund UK related work in established space markets such as Earth observation and telecommunications and even then the former is under question as the civil servants dither over ESA’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme

And while the UK government turns its nose up at human spaceflight as if it is an extravagance the numbers of students going into science and engineering are plummeting while other countries invest in astronauts programmes to inspire their youth

So, sadly, for the time being this is about as close as Britons are going to get to having an astronaut

I am on vacation this week so expect a reduced “service”

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