The space agencies of the UK and USA have signed a joint statement of intent on space exploration and research.
UK Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced the signing of the statement of intent on space exploration yesterday, 16 July: the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 space flight which first landed human explorers on the moon. In the statement, NASA and the UK Space Agency emphasise the commonality of their joint ambitions on space research and the potential for further lunar missions; as well as recognising the role played by the growing commercial space sector. The two agencies expressed their intention to form a joint working group on research co-ordination later this year.
Skidmore said: “As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 shows, NASA is an organisation steeped in history; but [it is] also one which is constantly looking to the future and breaking new ground. The government is committed to growing the UK space sector, fostering the key capabilities we have in areas such as satellite communications, navigation and robotics, while developing new facilities such as spaceports, as part of our Industrial Strategy. There are significant opportunities for collaborations between the UK and US over the next 50 years, and this statement of intent is a welcome step towards future missions.”
Alongside its partnership with the US as detailed in the new statement of intent on space exploration, the UK Space Agency continues to play a significant role in the European Space Agency, with a solar orbiter and an unmanned project searching for signs of life on Mars both set to launch in 2020.
Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “International collaboration is at the heart of space exploration and we want to work with partners around the world to deliver incredible science, develop innovative technologies and explore the solar system. The UK Space Agency and NASA are already working on missions such as the Mars InSight lander, but there is so much more we can achieve together in the new space age.”