The Government this week pledged to back the European Space Agency programme to the full with the appointment of the UK’s science and space minister Lord Sainsbury as the chairman of the agency’s ministerial council.
ESA is gearing up to exploit the satellite markets in multimedia and navigation. Each is expected to be worth $40-50bn a year over the next 20 years.
`We plan to achieve a major share of these markets,’ Sainsbury said.
While his appointment was officially welcomed by the other 13 European space ministers, the UK remains outside ESA’s manned space plans and its project to enhance its existing range of rocket launchers.
The agenda for this week’s ESA meeting in Brussels included looking at ways to monitor the effects of global warming under ESA’s `living planet’ programme and projects to take advantage of the multimedia satellite and navigation satellite markets.
The Department of Trade and Industry said Britain’s ESA partners will also be `renewing their commitments to the initial operating phase of the International Space Station and agreeing to further enhancements of European industry’s launcher capabilities’.