Mission to Mars

While I entirely agree with Steuart Campbell’s wish that, as human beings, we should be as willing as our ancestor’s to explore new horizons (Letters, 6 July), in this case Mars, I think he understates the case.

The idea that we shouldn’t do anything in space until all problems have been settled here would have meant Columbus still waiting at the dock. That would have done nothing to solve Europe’s problems.

The commercial space industry is growing at 10 per cent worldwide and 17.6 per cent in the US because it is driven by a series of incentives from the X-Prize foundation. This industry is also already the fastest growing in Britain, despite the lack of government support.

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The United Kingdom Independence Party has called for the £275 million we put into the European Space Agency, where it overwhelmingly disappears into the maw of European bureaucracy, into a British Space 
X-Prize fund instead.

One space industrialist has already confirmed that this will be “plenty” to kickstart a commercial British spaceplane.

If our political classes continue to turn their backs on our fastest growing industry, on the excuse that they have to wait until the economy is fine before doing anything, nothing will ever be done.

Britain could establish itself as a – possibly the – world leader in space industrialisation, without spending a penny more than we already give to European 
bureaucracy.

Neil Craig

Woodlands Road

Glasgow