...a blog by Richard Flowers

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Day 2390: MILLENNIUM'S MANIFESTO: Let's Build Rocket Ships


The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has warned that Great Britain needs a clear space strategy or we will risk FALLING BEHIND other countries!

Fortunately, I happen to have one about my fluffy person!

It's every child's dream: ride on the footplate of a steam train, drive a fire engine, or be an astronaut.

We shouldn't ever lose those dreams.

The aims of a British Space programme – which OBVIOUSLY should be called the British Rocket Group, and shame on you if you don't know why – should be
  • Release our natural creativity and aspirations. Get people excited about the future.
  • Encourage schools to participate in science, engineering and mathematics in the way that the Olympics is supposed to encourage them to participate in sport.
  • Benefit from the opportunities on offer, such as selling launch slots to companies and governments that want commercial (not military) satellites putting in space; the opportunities for medical research; the possibility of mining; and the other spin-off benefits of improving our technology.
  • Maximise the opportunities for gaining new knowledge, and impress upon people that knowledge and discovery are good in and of themselves.
  • Improve ourselves by, over time, shifting more and more of the resources of those companies currently devoted to making weapons into making civilian spacecraft. We shouldn't be selling so many guns to the world already, but we need to have an alternative for all those jobs.
To do this, the first aim should be to make a cheaper reliable reusable launch vehicle (one that, unlike the US Space Shuttle, does not need to be taken completely to pieces after every flight) capable of delivering a payload or passenger to orbit or the International Space Station.

The Space Shuttle is still based on 1970s technology, and the Orion replacement is, if anything, a step backwards to Apollo and away from reusability. We need a vehicle for the twenty-first century that is based on twenty-first century technology.

The project should also co-ordinate with NASA and the European, Japanese, Russian and Chinese space programmes to further the exploration of the Solar System by robotic spacecraft and to improve our ability to observe extra-Solar stars and planets.

In the medium term, we should plan for the construction of not one but several International Lunar bases (either together with the Americans or in parallel – multiple bases reduces the chance of a single catastrophic accident wiping out the entire project).

And, within say a twenty-year horizon, we should draw up plans for manned missions to colonise Mars.


Daddy Alex informs me that Wednesday the 18th of July is the 54th anniversary of the founding of the British Experimental Rocket Group!

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