UK Docks With US And Russia On Green Space Tech

The agreement will help projects including the analysis of climate change data from earth observation satellites

Not content with managing its own surprising coalition, the new government has announced a tie-up with former arch-enemies in the space race.

Announced this week at the Farnbornough Airshow, the government announced an agreement with Russian and US space agencies to help push development of space technology, which includes data analysis to help combat climate change.

The separate agreements with the US and Russia could help boost efforts to use Earth-observation satellite technology to provide more information on climate change.

“These agreements show our international partners view Britain as a major player in the space industry. They will help bring new opportunities for British innovators,” said Space Minister David Willetts.

The agreement with Russia will help cut through some of the customs and tax issues involved in space-based projects, the government has said.

Earth Observation Hub

As well as the international agreements, Willetts also announced a £4.9 million contract to build an Earth Observation Hub at the International Space Innovation Centre in Oxfordshire. The hub will be used to process the information collected by future space missions and the contact to build it has gone to a consortium led by space specialist Astrium.

“The Earth Observation Hub will help UK scientists make the most of the wealth of information we are collecting about our home planet, in vital areas such as monitoring the effects of climate change or so we can respond quickly to natural disasters throughout the world,” said Willets.  “It’s the important first step in making the International Space Innovation Centre a reality, linking regional space capabilities and promoting knowledge-sharing between academia and industry.”

According to government figures, the UK’s space sector contributes £6.5 billion a year to the UK economy and supports 68,000 jobs. The UK civil space programme budget is currently around £312m per year with about 77 percent of that being the UK’s contribution to European Space Agency (ESA) projects.

Nasa Hacker

Meanwhile, while the US and UK have announced tighter cooperation over space technology, US President Barack Obama raised hopes this week of a compromise over the extradition of so-called Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon to the US, after Prime Minister David Cameron raised the matter during a visit to Washington.

Nasa has also been cooperating with hosting company Rackspace and others as part of the OpenStack cloud project. NASA already operates its own cloud computing service called NASA Nebula.