Vice president for Space Systems International Jim Crocker says the Brexit vote will have little impact on Britain’s ability to collaborate on upcoming space missions. This follows comments in the lead-up the referendum made by former UK Minister of Science Lord Paul Drayson suggesting the UK could be grounded if we voted to leave the EU.
But Crocker told City A.M. Britain will continue its work with the European Space Agency – the programme responsible for both Tim Peake’s recent spell aboard the International Space Station and the Rosetta comet exploration mission – regardless of our EU membership. British astronaut Tim Peake returned from the ISS in June following a six month stint aboard the station. As well as taking plenty of photographs, Peake conducted a series of scientific experiments and completed a space walk.
Crocker said: “I would anticipate that co-operation on the International Space Station and on future missions will continue unabated. I would not see that being impacted. The European Space Agency exists outside of the European Union. It’s a treaty between a group of nations, and there are nations within ESA that aren’t in the EU.”
Although the programme maintains close ties with the EU, ESA is an independent organisation whose members include several non-EU countries, sincluding Norway, Switzerland and Canada. Brussels is, however, by far the largest single contributor to the organisation’s coffers, with around 20 per cent of ESA funding coming from the EU.
Crocker added: “When you look at the challenges of going to Mars, it’s going to take more than one nation to do it, and co-operation is the way to go. Look at the International Space Station, which is a collaboration between Russia, ESA and Japan.”