Space is the place for blue-sky thinking

There have been some frankly unhelpful comments following the launch this week of the UK Space Agency. Some people have even suggested that it is little more than another pointless government initiative – Planet Quango, a less-than-heavenly body, mainly consisting of inert gas.

“Space is money,” Lord Mandelson is reported to have said, but there is more to the UK Space Agency than investment. An as-yet unofficial mission statement – “Rolling out positive futures and outcomes for the UK’s space programme, going forward” – gives a more precise view of where the Government stands in relation to the universe. Here is an exclusive preview: Space is great for Britain. The British people have always led the world in innovation and creativity – and space has been no exception. Think of Thunderbirds. Or Dr Who. Then there’s Red Dwarf. Now, thanks to the Government, these great achievements of the past will literally springboard Britain into space exploration.

Space is for everyone. The universe is an inclusive place, and the British government is determined that the opportunities it offers will be available to all – women, men, kids, three-headed creatures from the Planet Zog, Daleks, even those prawn things from District 9. So long as you sign up to our Responsible Citizenship in Outer Space code, then you will be welcome.

Space is big. More than big, in fact – it is literally ginormous. If you are an entrepreneur, you’ll find that the Government is not just working globally when it comes to promoting British business interests – it is thinking multi-globally. Imagine a market that just goes on and on. That’s what we’re talking here.

Space is about health and safety. A lot of people have got hold of the idea that somehow inter-galactic exploration is “dangerous”. They prefer to dwell on negative history – the odd uncompleted journeys of the space shuttles, for example – than on the positive future. How many Britons have been killed in space? None. The Government is justly proud of that record and plans to introduce robust health and safety regulations to ensure that space exploration remains safer than crossing the road.

Space is a great place for investors. Some of the greatest men of modern history have gazed at the night sky and seen a huge personal opportunity: Howard Hughes. Sir Patrick Moore. Steven Spielberg. Sir Richard Branson. Now the gGovernment is opening up the galaxies to public-private partnership. You put up the money, we set up a quango and take all the credit. It’s that simple!

Space is environmentally important. Climate change. Global warming. A huge 100-foot wave swooshing across the country and drowning us all. These are important things. Which makes the Government’s quest for new worlds without any atmosphere at all really worthwhile. The UK Space Agency is committed to green space power. We believe that the most sustainable way to explore space is from behind a desk in an office, and looking up into the sky at night.

Space is about caring. At the end of the day, space is a people business. What makes it really meaningful is that, thanks to the Government, hundreds of new jobs will be created for ordinary people like you. The UK Space Agency will be committed round the clock to work creation – commissioning reports, setting up seminars, drafting White Papers and putting out press releases. Because we aim to share our values – wealth creation, green awareness, caring with a conscience – not just with the world, but with the universe.

Independent, Friday, 26 March 2010