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Human Space Flight

Last Updated on Monday, 25 July 2005 15:58
Published on Monday, 25 July 2005 00:00
Following the item on the BBC web site, Should Britain fund astronauts?'  nearly 20,000 votes were cast.   
 37% were in favour, only 8% were against but as many as 54% opted for the opaque ‘Houston, we have a problem’ voting button .
A further analysis was made of the 3370 written comments which were received between 15-18 June (when the poll closed). This showed that of those sufficiently interested to do more than hit a voting button 61% were in favour, 26% were against and 13% were undecided. The great majority of responses were from the UK and while a minority of those in the 'yes' camp appeared to back a 'British' effort, most were in favour of the UK working with ESA or NASA.
Of those who were opposed to British involvement in Human Space Flight the commonest reason given was that resources should be better spent tackling more immediate problems like poverty in Africa, the funding of the  NHS  etc. Supporters either pointed out that the costs involved were less than other items currently in the news, such as ID cards, or criticised the lack of vision implicit in a value for money approach eg
‘With all the arguments, nit picking and irritations about EU budgets, Iraq, road/rail congestion, NHS etc etc Britain really, really needs a big idea to challenge and inspire us.  It’s like a family, it can spend all the money on bills and housework but without the holiday, life gets very tedious. Lets just look over the horizon for a change… 
There is a strong argument that cheaper unmanned space projects reap greater scientific rewards than manned missions, but I think the desire to explore is an intrinsic part of human nature ...' 
The RAS Commission on Human Space Flight plans to issue its report in the autumn