British National Space Centre
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New era for space exploration as 14 space agencies take historic step

New era for space exploration as 14 space agencies take historic step

BRITISH NATIONAL SPACE CENTRE News Release (03/07) issued by The Government News Network on 31 May 2007

In an unprecedented move, 14 of the world's leading space agencies today revealed their agreed vision for globally co-ordinated space exploration to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Following months of intensive discussions, they published their common ideas for space exploration: The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Co-ordination.

The document outlines the rationale for society to explore space, defines the current focus and process of space exploration, the current interest in returning to the Moon and exploring Mars, and proposes a framework for the future co-ordination of global space exploration.

Welcoming the publication of the document, Science and Innovation Minister Malcolm Wicks said:

"This document marks the start of a new era of space exploration. Since the launch of Sputnik in 1957, we have learnt much about how to explore space and have experienced the benefits of scientific discoveries in our everyday lives. Innovations such as exploiting space for global communications, weather forecasting and helping emergency services have all flowed from the first half-century of space exploration.

"During this century we are sure to see some fantastic voyages of discovery as robots and humans venture further into our Solar System. What they learn will excite and inspire new generations to get involved in science and create new technology that could benefit the whole economy.

"The Framework for Co-ordination sets out a common vision for a new era of international collaboration. I welcome the fact that the UK can use this to inform our national plans while joining together in a truly global endeavour. "

British National Space Centre - which co-ordinates UK civil space activities and represents the UK at the European Space Agency - was fully involved in shaping this document. Following its publication, it is expected that a voluntary, non-binding forum (the International Co-ordination Mechanism) will now be established so that all 14 nations can share their plans for space exploration, and collaborate to strengthen both individual projects and the collective effort.

This is an exciting time for UK space exploration:

* The UK was heavily involved in the recent and highly successful SMART-1 mission to the Moon;

* The UK is building cutting edge technology to survey the geochemistry of the Moon aboard the Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission which is due for blast off in 2008;

* It is also the second largest contributor to the European Space Agency's (ESA) Aurora space exploration programme;

* UK industry has recently started work on the BepiColombo mission to Mercury, a joint European/Japanese mission to be launched in 2013.

The UK space sector is worth £4.8 billion per annum, supports 70,000 jobs and makes an overall contribution to UK GDP of almost £7 billion per annum.


1. The document The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Co-ordination was published today at the 3rd ASI/ESA International Co-operation for Sustainable Space Exploration Workshop which is meeting in Sarteano, Italy (29 May to 01 June 2007). It can be found on the BNSC website at

2. The British National Space Centre was among the 14 space agencies that developed the document. These were: ASI (Italy); BNSC (UK); CNES (France); CNSA (China); CSA (Canada); CSIRO (Australia); DLR (Germany); ESA (European Space Agency); ISRO (India); JAXA (Japan); KARI (Republic of Korea); NASA (USA); NSAU (Ukraine); and, Roscosmos (Russia).

3. The British National Space Centre (BNSC) is a partnership of nine Government Departments and research councils and is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and exploit space. BNSC co-ordinates UK civil space activities to benefit science, enterprise and the environment and represents the UK at the European Space Agency and at other international fora.

4. The Science and Technology Facilities Council is the BNSC partner that invests in space science and exploration on behalf of the UK. For more information, visit

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