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UK Reconsiders 1986 Decision To Ban Astronauts 279

Posted by Zonk
from the brits-iiiinnnn-spaaaaccceee dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The British space agency, BNSC, is reconsidering its 1986 decision to reject all human space missions. The decision has dominated British space policy ever since, leaving Britain out of many American and European space projects. The UK is the only nation in the G8 group of leading economies that does not have a human space flight program. But space enthusiast groups like the British Interplanetary Society are trying to persuade the British government to participate in both manned and unmanned space activities."
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UK Reconsiders 1986 Decision To Ban Astronauts

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  • Pathetic.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:28PM (#22779380)
    Pathetic whimperings of a dying civilization.

    If one takes the British position that 'man has no business in space' then there isn't a point to sending robots beyond geostationary orbit either. The whole point of sending robots is that they are cheaper and more expendable to send than humans, thus they are good for the early scouting missions. But if humans aren't eventually going, what is the freaking point?
  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:33PM (#22779406)
    Theres this thing, im not sure you have much of it over the pond, its called science. There is know need/point in wasting money in some ego race to see who can touch mars first, but by exploring the universe we can expand our scientific knowledge.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:42PM (#22779468)
    Sending a person into outer space would put him or her beyond the reach of police surveillance.

    That's just not on. What do you think we are in the UK, some kind of namby pamby democracy?
  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:45PM (#22779484)

    No, their position is that government should play no role in sending men into space.


    No, read the article. As a Libertarian sort I'd be down with that part about not stealong my money to blast somebody else into space. But yhey are spewing propaganda to British school children. To quote the article:

    2. Make the case for ending human space flight. Outline the advantages of using satellites and the disadvantages and dangers of manned missions. Include an explanation as to why manned missions have continued despite the cost and loss of life.


    That is a sign of a civilization that has lost not only the will to live, it isn't even all that curious anymore. If you aren't ever planning on roving over the mountain eventually, why waste the money sending a robot to look around?
  • by Doug52392 (1094585) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:49PM (#22779504)
    I guess the UK got tired of the United States government's fancy spy stations spying on the rest of the world :)
  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:01PM (#22779586)

    As a Libertarian
    Your an anarcho-communist too?

    But yhey are spewing propaganda to British school children.
    Right because making the case for an item is propaganda.
    1)There will probably be a who section space flight, so making a case for not poluting the atmosphere is probably worth it
    2)They then give children the counter arguments.(So basically the lesson would cover, reasons not to go into space (danger, pollution, too many Americans there), then why we do it anyway (science & pride))
    3)British teachers are fairly free to give their opinion AS opinion, and telling them that the children will be examined on the pros & cons of space travel doesn't force them to oppose it.

    If you aren't ever planning on roving over the mountain eventually, why waste the money sending a robot to look around?
    Why rove over it, if you can get all the information you need by safer, cheaper, less environmentally damaging, more scientific ways?

    p.s criticizing our scientific education is not so much the pot calling the kettle black, more like a supper massive black hole calling the sun heavy. Perhaps if you paid less attention to the "propaganda" in British schools, you might notice some of the crap your kids get taught.
  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:14PM (#22779638)
    erm, it didn't. Read a journal and you'll see that experiments just happen, e.g 'chemical A was mixed with chemical B and C occurred', not that the tense matters but my point is it doesn't have to be a human doing the experiment to get the data. On earth we tend to try and get humans as far from the experiments as possible, because we lack the rigor of robots.

    There is little chance of sending a man to astrological location is the most efficient way to gather scientific data, so why bother when wed be better of spending the money researching stuff like stem cells, evolution or black holes.
  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gordo_1 (256312) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:23PM (#22779684)
    Traditionally, the ego race is precisely the means by which your elitist ilk entice us regular folk (i.e. politicians, janitors and steroid-abusing baseball players) to consider giving any of our hard earned tax dollars to this so called "science" you speak of.
  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by unbug (1188963) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:26PM (#22779706)
    I know this is going to be unpopular but... So what is the point of sending people to different planets? Is there one, if we leave aside the "new frontier" romantics (which I'm too old for) and the "save the mankind from an asteroid crash" stuff (which seems a bit silly, to be honest)? The US eventually stopped sending people to the moon because, among other things, they just didn't know what to do there. Would sending people really gain us much more over sending probes?
  • by MadnessASAP (1052274) <madnessasap@gmail.com> on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:30PM (#22779722)
    Yes of course it's all so simple now. We'll just create an organization and get trillions of dollars with no chance of return for a VERY long time to send someone into space. Why the fuck hadn't we thought of this before, god bless you and your genius insight we are but little lost sheep without you to guide our way into space.

    Now shut the fuck up, stick a damn firecracker up your ass and blast your goddamn way to the moon. If you want I can form a society to do it if you like, we may even get a few dollars from people to do it.

  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:43PM (#22779796) Homepage Journal

    But yhey are spewing propaganda to British school children. To quote the article:

    2. Make the case for ending human space flight. Outline the advantages of using satellites and the disadvantages and dangers of manned missions. Include an explanation as to why manned missions have continued despite the cost and loss of life.

    The thought of British authorities trying to use the horrible danger of human spaceflight to brainwash students to be frightened of the idea reminds me of Reefer Madness [wikipedia.org]
  • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:45PM (#22779808)
    The reason bureaucrats hate space programs is because it's the one guaranteed area where you can dump as many billions as you want and you will get no measurable progress. All this probery doesn't count- yes it's scientifically invaluable, but it's just enough to keep American voters happy that their tax money is hiring very smart people to make progress in space. No matter how many soil samples we take, launching probes will never get us to Mars, or back to the moon.. and that's just the way it's going to stay because an elected official would have to bring an economy to its knees to do it, and they're not going to stay elected for long.
  • by SquirrelsUnite (1179759) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:49PM (#22779818)
    At this point human spaceflight is at best a propaganda exercise and at worst a complete waste of money. Why should the UK change their stance on the issue? Has human spaceflight become more interesting in the last 20 years? More strategically important? More affordable?
    I realize human spaceflight is inspiring but that in itself isn't enough to justify the expenses.
  • Re:Tea (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2008 @10:07PM (#22779882)
    Little known fact: the Irish drink the most tea per capita [yahoo.com] in the world, a full 20% more per capita than the British.
  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sconeu (64226) on Monday March 17, 2008 @10:18PM (#22779922) Homepage Journal
    So what is the point of sending people to different planets?

    As Sir George Mallory said, when asked why he wanted to climb Everest, "Because it is there."

    Or even, as Robert Burns put it several hundred years earlier -- A man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?
  • by dbolger (161340) on Monday March 17, 2008 @10:55PM (#22780112) Homepage
    Meanwhile, in 1491 Madrid...

    Ardillasunen wrote:

    At this point human transatlantic exploration is at best a propaganda exercise and at worst a complete waste of money. Why should King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella change their stance on the issue? Have transatlantic voyages become more interesting in the last 20 years? More strategically important? More affordable?

    I realize transatlantic exploration is inspiring but that in itself isn't enough to justify the expenses.
  • by SquirrelsUnite (1179759) on Monday March 17, 2008 @11:04PM (#22780154)
    Good thing Isabella had the vision to send Colombus first to the Canaries and then to the Sahara desert. Oh, wait...
  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreggBz (777373) on Monday March 17, 2008 @11:05PM (#22780156) Homepage

    There is know need/point in wasting money in some ego race to see who can touch mars first, but by exploring the universe we can expand our scientific knowledge.
    Not to invalidate your point, but I think the GP has a better one. I don't care how smart you get. You've got to step out of mom's basement eventually!

    Human spaceflight is risky, ponderous and expensive. But there is a very deep, very meaningful reason to push on. See, I've always held on to the frail hope that one day we will leave this rock. It's why I read science fiction. I mean, who does not? I can't imagine it another way. I find contemplating the inevitable extinction of the human race utterly depressing. It's our deepest instinct to survive, after all.

    Square one is always going to be expensive. But it's certainly not a waste of money. The peripheral benefits are enormous. Advances in engineering, industry, science and enough to inspire so many. Can you imagine if a woman was the first to step on Mars? She'd inspire us all. I'd like to see that in my lifetime.

    We got hundreds of pounds of Moon rocks back to Earth was via the manned missions. A lot of those samples were selected Harrison Schmitt a geologist, based on geological significance, once he got there. They were thereafter distributed to leading geologists around the world, many in the Soviet Union even. The samples have probably done more to advance our understanding of the Moon than any other thing. The last Apollo mission was the most scientifically significant. We were just getting started.

    It did not crash the US federal budget. It caused no wars. It employed 400,000 people. It gave Boeing and Locked Martin something to build besides bombs. Apollo was almost invariably, a great thing. Without Vietnam, perhaps it would have continued on.

    I don't have a problem racing to Mars. In fact, I think we should be there already. We've been sitting on our laurels since the 70's. The apatite for realizing the Arthur Clarke type human future in space will vanish in a few generations if we don't give those generations anything to look forward to.

  • Re:Pathetic.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jarjarthejedi (996957) <christianpinch@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday March 17, 2008 @11:47PM (#22780358) Journal
    Not to mention that ego races and greed are some of the best ways to motivate people to accomplish great things. I doubt we'd ever have gone to the moon had it not been for the ego race between the US and the USSR and those trips are one of the main reasons that space still holds any appeal to people back here on Earth.

    Science for science sake is a great idea, just like socialism. In practice, however, most implementations leave something to be desired...
  • by teh kurisu (701097) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @02:26AM (#22780808) Homepage

    You realise that NASA is a US government agency, don't you? Those 'worthless bureaucratic tax feeders' were responsible for just about every advancement into space that the US has ever made...

    ...with the exception of SpaceShipOne of course. Well done. Of course, SpaceShipTwo will be a joint venture with Virgin Galactic, a British company.

    Ironically, you could say that British manned flight is more skewed towards private enterprise than it has ever been in the US.

  • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:42AM (#22781958) Homepage
    The NHS if horrifically inneficient, at every level. Just like a government agency in fact.

    It gets cheaper healthcare, sure, but there's nothing to crow about. It's just tight budgeting. It's not 'better'. The staff are demoralised, the patients are lucky to get 5 minutes with a doctor these days (they're on quotas and must get through as many as possible) and because of this the standard response has become 'take these antibiotics and go away' - leading to other problems - not only rampant misdiagnosis, but the growth of antibiotic resistant diseases.

    Case in point - prescriptions. A consultant puts you on a long term drug, but he can't issue it. That has to be done by a GP. For this they require written notice (no email, web, or phone allowed and they don't open weekends of evenings so you have to take time off work to do it). Having received this request it takes them 3-4 days to sign a little piece of paper, which you then have to take more time off work to collect, and manually walk 20 feet to the chemist next door to have it dispensed (which typically takes over an hour). This has to be repeated every month. I know, I go through the whole charade repeatedly.

    The amount of waste in just that simple process is horrendous. There's also the lost work time, which doesn't get counted in the cost of the NHS but is a cost nontheless.

    It's not just at the patient level - I have friends in the NHS and they talk about the stupid rules where something 1 person could do very quickly but because of the beaurocracy takes days and has to go through multiple people.

    We like to think the NHS is the best in the world, but that's just the propoganda. I'd rather be treated in a 3rd world country than some of the hospitals I've seen.

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