Make It So: MP Questioned On UK Space Flight Plans
PRESS ASSOCIATION -- The Government has been asked about future plans for sending humans into space.
Steve Brine, Conservative MP for Winchester, wanted to know what role ministers could play in helping space tourists blast off from the UK into orbit.
Mr Brine harked back to the "exciting" 1980s Hotol (horizontal take off and landing) British space programme.
Hotol was a space shuttle project developed by British Aerospace and Rolls-Royce, for which the Government scrapped funding in 1988. "It certainly put a spring in the step of the British space industry," said Mr Brine.
He said the Skylon scheme for an unpiloted space plane "looks equally promising today" and asked how an "ambitious Government" could help future human space travel.
Speaking at Business Questions in the Commons, Science minister David Willetts said: "This is an excellent British technology which is securing a lot of private backing.
"The future of space travel rests much more with commercial businesses now."
He said he looked forward to Major Tim Peake, a British astronaut with the European Space Agency, flying into orbit.
Mr Willetts, who later will meet Yuri Gagarin's daughter following the unveiling of his statue in Westminster marking 50 years since his first manned mission into space, also praised Virgin Galactic's plans for sub-orbital spaceflights.
He added: "In the growth review we set out our support for innovative new forms of space travel such as Virgin Galactic involving British entrepreneurs and British inventors."