I’m publishing a conversation with Mark Hempsell, designer of a proposed British addition to the International Space Station. For the first part of the debate, see this post, and then come back to read Mark’s latest.
I do not agree that, in the context of Government spending, £500
million is a lot of money and indeed UK space based astronomy and space science
is already funded at this level (a third of the UK civil space spend).
This is why we had Beagle 2 and Britain will have involvement in Exomars. It
is also a myth that human space flight is expensive, on average the cost
of science by robotic spacecraft and science on Space Stations is about
the same – around £20 million per experiment.
So let us look at the HEM, we need to add a science funding programme
to exploit the opportunity HEM would open up and the total would be £600
million. This funding and the logistics space available in the two HEMs
to carry science would enable around 100 separate UK experiments to be
conducted, that is £6 million per experiment well below the average
space science average.
Is the science worth it? Yes of course it is, and it includes essential
preparation for human exploration of Mars, but with so many different
disciplines involved I do not know of any one place to get the complete
case for Space Station science – but then I have never seen the one
place that presents the complete case for space based astronomy. But for a
taster of microgravity science I suggest “Challenges of Human Space
Exploration” by Marsha Freeman (Springer-Praxis 2000).
Finally the deal you offer; that if the UK were to invest in human
space flight we should go for Moon Mars and by pass the ISS? Well if we did
want involvement in the Moon / Mars initiative we would have to cooperate
with some or all the partners on the ISS. The HEM is not only a politic way
to demonstrate the UK can be a partner in such enterprises but the design
we have presented would develop radiation protection, plastic habitat
structures and a generic avionic suite – all of which would be new and
valuable contributions to missions to Moon and Mars.