§ 39. Mr. P. Williams
asked the Minister of Supply whether he will make a statement on the development and testing of Black Knight; and whether it is now intended to launch a Commonwealth earth satellite.
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Aubrey Jones)
Black Knight is a test vehicle for high altitude research. It has been designed and constructed by Saunders-Roe and other firms to the requirements of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. The success of the first firing in Australia, on 7th September, reflects great credit on all concerned. A programme of further firings is planned.
The opportunity for space research arises from certain techniques being developed for the defence programme. My officials are accordingly in constant touch with the Office of the Lord President of the Council, and with numerous scientific authorities, including, through the good offices of the Royal Society, a number of its Fellows, on the scientific value to be obtained from British participation in space research, including research by satellites. The Royal Society is not being consulted on the possible military value of such research. The possibility of co-operation with other countries is naturally taken into account.
§ Mr. Williams
Will not my right hon. Friend agree that if there is any question of limiting research because of the shortage of finance, it is vital that Commonwealth Governments be invited to participate and to provide funds for such a research programme?
§ Mr. Beswick
Irrespective of Government thinking on the subject, if it is not a question of finance, what is the argument against sending a vehicle up into space? Has the Minister, or the Government, formed any idea of the cost of carrying out a programme of this kind?