UK Space Conference: The Keynote

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Day one of the UK Space Conference and the announcements are well on the way. The proceedings were opened by Dr Phillip Lee MP, the Exec Vice Chair, Education, skills and inspiration, on the Parliamentary Space Committee. In his opening speech he said when he gave his introductory speech to parliament many thought he was mad for doing it about the UK Space Industry. That’s the kind of thing this conference is hoping to combat.

Moving onto the first speaker. David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science had some interesting points to make…

He said the Outer Space Act would be amended in order to level the playing field for spacecraft wanting to take off from the UK. Currently a craft launching from the UK requires unlimited damage liability. This is going to be scrapped.

Launches also require insurance up to £100million. This will be reduced to £60million, the amount most launch companies already cover you for. This removes the need for extra cover to be purchased and seemed like a policy change that was welcomed by the audience.

He also announced that the world famous Rutherford Appleton Laboratory has won the contract to build the world’s first live streaming space camera within a year.

The camera will be flown up to the ISS and people (that means you) will be able to look at the camera’s view using the Internet to a resolution down to 1meter (pretty much like google maps…..but live and better!)

I spoke to the people at the lab before the announcement and they were a little wary of the time scale, but hugely enthusiastic about the project.

The final speaker of note was Jean-Jacques Dordain, the Director General of the European Space Agency. He said he was glad the UK was becoming more involved with the European Space Agency (although there were glances between him and the minister when talking about finances). He also came out with the quote of the keynote.

“space is so user friendly, people just don’t know they use it.”

The conference breaks for lunch shortly, and will split into parallel sessions after that. Networking of cause continues throughout. If you want to be nosey, @jackdearlove is the place to be.

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