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Human Space Exploration

The poll of RAS Fellows on possible UK involvement in Human Space Exploration closed on 14 February 2007. Over 450 members of the RAS, voted on the statement (below) and overwhelmingly(by 442 to 18) endorsed it. This now will form the basis of the Society's policy on UK involvement in human space exploration ( HSE).

It is likely that HSE will be discussed at the next session of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's enquiry on Space Policy on 21 February, at which the President of the RAS will give oral evidence ( the RAS's written evidence can be read here).

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'The RAS strongly endorses the scientific benefits of space missions, which have transformed our knowledge of the Earth, the solar system and the universe over the past 50 years.

The RAS holds to the view that the prime driver in selection of scientific space missions, within an inevitably limited budget, should be the quality of the science.

The RAS recognizes that there may be some scientific goals that can only be achieved within a human spaceflight programme (see the Report of the RAS Commission on The Scientific Case for Human Spaceflight). However these goals are likely to be feasible only within a greatly expanded scientific space programme.

The RAS also recognizes that the space programme is a powerful attractor of school-children and students towards STEM subjects, and that the space industry is an important sector of the UK economy. Educational, economic and technological arguments might support a UK involvement in human spaceflight. However this would require separate funding, additional to the science budget.'