Wednesday 21 July: A successful Space day at Farnborough

Space Day Conference
21 July 2010

Space can help rebuild the economy and drive economic growth – these were the central themes of Space Day at the Farnborough International Airshow. Surrounded by models of satellites and dramatic images from space, UK Space Minister David Willetts spoke of his optimism for the future of the space sector.

Outlining the UK Government approach to space, the Minister said that space had the ability to inspire and enthuse future generations of scientists and engineers. “Like millions of people across the world, I’ve been stunned by those awe-inspiring images from the (ESA) Planck telescope of the oldest light in the cosmos – light emitted some 13.7 billion years ago,” he said.

The Minister told delegates he was determined to strengthen the UK’s capacity to innovate and announced a £5 million contract with Astrium to establish an Earth Observation ‘hub’ at the new International Science and Innovation Centre (ISIC), based at Harwell in Oxfordshire, UK. ISIC will sit alongside the new ESA centre recently established on the same site.

ESA at the Farnborough Airshow 2010
Ministers D. Willetts and M. Gelmini

“The new ESA centre is working well, especially in climate change science and related applications,” the Minister told the show’s packed space conference. “Soon it will have an incubator for new space businesses and run activities in support to space exploration projects. This is a fantastic additional catalyst for UK space.”

“I want to see the best ideas from space contributing to improvements in transport, to the building of a smart energy grid, to providing mapping facilities for the emergency services and other users,” the Minister said. “Integrating space data to create new commercial services is a key thrust of the new ESA programmes we’re supporting.”

ESA at the Farnborough Airshow 2010
Participants at the Space Day Conference

The role of space in helping countries recover from recession was also a theme pursued by ESA Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain. With all governments in Europe looking to reduce expenditure, Dordain said that ESA was taking action to save money wherever possible. He urged countries across Europe to think ahead and keep investing in space. “It is particularly in times of crisis when it is more important to invest in future”.

”These programmes are the light that will come in five years, ten years. The outstanding achievements we are getting now are coming from projects started five or ten years ago

The Space Zone at Farnborough features stands, displays and presentations from the space sector. One of the stands is hosted by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), a key partner in many ESA programmes. The country’s Minister for Education, Universities and Research, Mariastella Gelmini, also spoke at this morning’s conference, summing up what many people here feel:

“Space is the true future of humankind, man needs to face new challenges and reach new goals,” she told delegates. “Space science and human spaceflight push back these boundaries of knowledge.”

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