NASA and the British National Space Centre (BNSC) have signed a historic agreement to jointly study how the two space agencies might work together on future planetary explorations to the Moon and beyond.
A joint team is to be established to conduct a study into specific areas of US-UK potential collaboration involving lunar science and exploration.
Science and Innovation Minister Malcolm Wicks said: "During my recent meeting with NASA's Administrator Dr Michael Griffin, I was keen for the USA and UK to co-operate on exactly this sort of exciting endeavour.
"I am delighted that this important agreement has been signed between our two space agencies which could provide an opportunity to harness the UK's world-class expertise in small satellite and robotic technologies."
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. The joint agreement was signed in Washington and marks the successful conclusion of several recent meetings on potential lunar and planetary collaboration.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. A copy of the agreement "Joint Statement of Intent for Co-operation in the Field of Space Exploration" is attached for information.
2. The agreement was signed in Washington DC at 19:00 hours local time, Thursday 19 April 2007. (London is five hours ahead of Washington DC time, so signing took place 00:00 hours British Summer Time Friday 20 April 2007.)
3. The UK has already completed a feasibility study of two robotic mission options to the surface of the Moon focused on exploiting the UK's leadership in small satellites and miniaturised science instruments. MoonRaker, a small propulsive Lander to provide in-situ geological dating, and MoonLITE equipped with missile-shaped penetrators carrying seismometers to investigate the lunar interior and a telecommunications capability to demonstrate high data rate telecoms at the Moon. These mission options exemplify the UK's expertise in small satellites, robotics and miniaturised instruments. In addition, MoonLITE's telecoms capability could provide a vital contribution to NASA's ambition of establishing a Moon base by 2020.
4. The British National Space Centre (BNSC) is a partnership of nine Government Departments and research councils which is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and exploit space.
BNSC co-ordinates UK civil space policy to benefit science, enterprise and the environment.
JOINT STATEMENT OF INTENT
FOR COOPERATION IN THE FIELD OF SPACE EXPLORATION
UNITED STATES NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
UNITED KINGDOM BRITISH NATIONAL SPACE CENTRE
The United States and the United Kingdom have a long history of successful cooperation in space and aeronautics activities. In the spirit of continued collaboration, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United Kingdom's British National Space Centre (BNSC) desire to continue technical discussions on potential cooperative lunar exploration activities.
The United States and United Kingdom have technical capabilities and expertise in: spacebased remote sensing; satellite communication and navigation systems; planetary exploration; rovers; small satellites; and related technologies. Because cooperation involving these unique capabilities may be extremely valuable for future lunar exploration, NASA and representatives of the BNSC recently held several exploratory discussions on potential lunar collaboration. BNSC, which is responsible for coordinating civil space activities in the United Kingdom, has also contributed valuable input to the NASA-led, multi-national Global Exploration Strategy effort.
NASA and BNSC confirm their mutual desire for detailed discussions on specific areas of potential collaboration involving lunar science and exploration. These cooperative efforts may range from the exchange of information related to research and development to actual hardware contributions for particular missions. They will be studied in greater detail by a technical team representing NASA and appropriate British technical organizations designated by BNSC. The composition, schedule, and scope of this technical team will jointly be determined as soon as possible. Any joint activities to be carried out as a result of these technical discussions will be documented by appropriate international agreements.
National Aeronautics and
Sir Keith O'Nions
Science and Innovation
Department of Trade and Industry