UK Government Spaceport Sited in Worst Place

The government is getting excited, the UK is set for new space age! Launching rockets into space from Scotland, supported by the taxpayers with spaceflight grants worth over £30 million as part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. Sutherland at latitude: 58° 10′ 18.00″ N will be the northernmost operational spaceport in the world. The reason spaceports are usually and preferably sited near the Equator is because that is where the Earth’s rotational speed is the highest. Rockets launched from sites near the Equator get an additional natural boost that helps save the cost of putting in extra fuel and boosters. So putting a spaceport in the North of a northern hemisphere country is just plain dumb.

This is why government industrial strategies are a bad idea. Politicians pick projects for political reasons, “local jobs” – a for-profit enterprise would never consider a launch site at this a northern latitude. There are plenty of British territories nearer the Equator. Even Cornwall would be a better launch site…

UPDATE: Scottish Rockets: Correction

mdi-timer 16 July 2018 @ 12:01 16 Jul 2018 @ 12:01 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lembit Opik Elected MP For Outer Space

Lembit Opik is among a group of British politicians who have been elected MPs in the Parliament of Asgardia, the first ‘space nation’. Asgardia aims to be the first nation state in space – enthusiasts launched a (small) satellite into orbit containing the data of thousands of its citizens, but apart from that it exists mainly online. There are 200,000 ‘citizens’ of Asgardia who have signed up online from countries around the world. It is unclear how many still live in their mum’s spare bedroom. One day the Asgardians hope to have a fully functioning space colony, where Lembit will be making the laws…

The first meeting of the Asgardian Parliament is set for 24 June in Vienna. Others involved include former Lib Dem Leicester South MP Parmjit Singh Gill, and, interestingly, sitting Tory MP Nigel Evans. This may not be allowed…

Commenting on the opportunities presented to British citizens by Asgardia, Lembit Opik said:

“As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, the country is liberated to invest in a truly global space community, and the Government has recognised this with substantial investment in the UK space sector. Asgardia welcomes British citizens who share the dream of human opportunities in space for all countries, not just the privileged few who can afford a presence in space. There was a time when only the British Upper Class could travel abroad. Now it’s possible for all to do it.”

Cosmic…

mdi-timer 14 June 2018 @ 16:29 14 Jun 2018 @ 16:29 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Barnier’s Lost in Space Over Galileo

Remainers are becoming more and more excited over the impact of Brexit on UK participation in EU space activities, especially the Galileo satellite network. The Galileo navigation system is the EU’s rival to US-owned GPS. A key element of the system, designed for military and emergency services, is a timing and navigation signal called the PRS (Public Regulated Service). The European Commission says the UK will not be able to access the PRS without further agreements after Brexit. Michel Barnier is weaponising the issue in his latest attempt at brinkmanship. He said yesterday:

“Third countries and their companies cannot participate in the development of security-sensitive matters.”

That’s more than a bit rich from Barnier: British experts designed much of the cryptography behind the system and developed the security technology protecting PRS. The satellites are currently controlled from Portsmouth. UK companies control the crucial security information – those firms have been reminded by ministers that they should not enter into new Galileo contracts in response to EU posturing. Moreover, the UK has poured £1.2 billion of taxpayers’ money into developing the system. It is already years late. If the EU makes an issue of it, the British will withdraw, sending costs spiralling for the EU-27 and delaying the project even further due to their lack of expertise…

Meanwhile, the UK government has already started work on its own system. A UK Space Agency spokesman said:

“The UK Space Agency is leading the work to develop options for a British alternative to Galileo, to guarantee our satellite positioning, navigation and timing needs are met in the future.”

Taking back control to infinity and beyond?

Switzerland and Canada are member countries of the European Space Agency without being in the EU or, in Canada’s case, europe. This will, as with Euratom and the Open Skies Agreement, turn out to be bluster on both sides and a deal will be done…

mdi-timer 15 May 2018 @ 15:24 15 May 2018 @ 15:24 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments