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Benign neglect

For years, the French and now the Chinese have attempted to emulate the large-scale efforts of the United States to waste as much of their taxpayers’ money as they can in orbit. The vision of a beflagged rocket thrusting into the vacuum is presented as a symbol of national virility.

We British should feel lucky that no government has ever felt the need to put a bloody great big Union Jack on top of a rocket and sling it into orbit. Since the ‘special relationship’ supplied most of the intelligence that the British required, a space policy was unnecessary and was not developed. Indeed, a civil space policy has emerged in recent years at the behest of the Brussels lunatics.

A quick survey, in an article by Taylor Dinerman, a spacepundit in The Space Review, provided a quick survey of contemporary and future developments in British space weaponisation. Possibilities include the potential development of defenses for new satellite capabilities and acquiring space strike capabilities for the RAF. It is clear that,

…this is not a joke. The UK does have a variety of military space systems and is developing more. It is inconceivable that any British government would ever willingly give up its status as a first-rank, medium-sized military power. Thus, they will have to develop a far more sophisticated and comprehensive approach to military operations in orbit than they have up to now.

The most interesting aspect of Dinerman’s conclusions is that the lack of government funding or inspiration in Britain has not prevented the development of a potential infrastructure for space in the UK.

Britain is, indeed, lucky that its entrepreneurial juices have not entirely dried up. Unlike other European states, whose governments have invested massively in space technology and who are struggling to replicate America�s military space infrastructure, the UK has achieved potential military space independence largely through the efforts of small entrepreneurs, such as SSTL�s CEO, Sir Martin Sweeting, and the Starchaser team. It is said that the British Empire was an inadvertent achievement. In the future, it may be said that Britain�s place in space was gained through a similar accident.

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9 comments to Benign neglect

  • Keith

    Um…didn’t Britain have the Blue Streak and Black Knight projects at Woomera years ago? As part of the European Launcher Development Organisation?

  • MaDr

    All hail the Brits in not spending their treasure in space! Seems like a logical decision to me. When China starts bombarding you from space will your position hold or will you come running to the USA for protection? Is your position now and continue to be, fuck the expense and the risk, we won’t carry it, let the USA?

    If not bombardment from space, I guess it’s totally ludicrous to expect any recognition for the expense, carried mostly by the USA, to keep the trade lanes and sealanes open for commerce?

    God bless my brothers the Brits, but even family members reserve the right to disagree.

  • Thanks for reminding people of that article of mine. Maybe you could also remind them of the one I did called “No Sex (or any other human activities) in space please we’re British!”

    Britian’s lack of a serious space effort is not exactly a good thing, Though you do seem to have a military procurement system that is even more screwed up than ours, its sad that the spirit of that old pirate Drake seems to be lacking.

    I look forward to the day when a British privateer with letters of marque in good and due form, boards a French or Spainsh space station and confiscates all their ill gotten space gains.

  • Chris Harper

    Hmmm, even by the mid seventies every cent spent on space had already been repaid, with pofit, by improved weather forecasting. Everything else, including moon launches and communications satellites, was effectively free of charge.

    In space it is raining soup. And Britain doesn’t even have a bowl.

  • Julian Morrison

    Blech, Britain this, Britain that. My hope is that Britain-the-government never has anything in space. Meanwhile entrepreneurial individual Britons like Richard Branson will have private hardware up there turning a tidy profit.

  • Nick Timms

    Madr the Chinese will never need to bombard us from space as they are already overwhelming our industries. I visit hundreds of small and medium sized businesses throughout the UK each year and anyone who makes something is struggling because, no matter how much they cut their costs and profit margins, they cannot compete with the Chinese.

    The Chinese now consume a large percentage of the materials of industry, oil, concrete, plastics which in turn puts the price up to British (and other countries) industries.

    The Chinese are waging a war on us but it is an economic war and they are winning. Perhaps, ultimately, this will have positive benefits. As the Chinese become wealthier their political system may have evolved to the point where they are more capitalist than anyone else. Certainly the UK can hardly call itself a capitalist country any longer – there are too many barriers to running a business here.

    Like Julian Morrison I have great hopes for the private exploitation of space. I do not want the UK government to have yet another excuse to put up my taxes so they can waste billions doing something badly that private enterprise could do well at a fraction of the cost.

  • I hate to have to say this, but the British Government is already bleeding Her Majesty’s Royal Taxpayers to pay for it’s share in the European Space Agency program including Galileo and a number of others. British government space policy has traditionally been based on ‘practical return on investment’ and on science as defined by the scientific establishment.

    You have a better knowledge than I, of how skilled the UK’s bureaucrats are at getting ROI.

    Ten years ago Space Commercialization at NASA was just a slogan, as Elias Canetti taught us, the work slogan comes from the old Scottish phrase for the shouts of the dead. We’ll see if the new NASA administration can revive this particular corpse.

  • If as you say we have such a special relationship with the US, then we won’t be expending vast sums on trial and error will we? We’ll simply be able to build rockets like the yanks, and off we go. Right… We’re not losing any race, we’re not even in the same stadium…

  • Keith

    the english guy–here in Oz/NZ we have a term for that.
    It’s called “bludging”