HC Deb 04 February 1985 vol 72 cc395-6W
Mr. Michael Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what resolutions were adopted following the European Space Agency ministerial meeting in Rome on 30–31 January regarding a long-term European space plan and proposals for European participation in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration space station project; and if he will make a statement regarding specific United Kingdom involvement in these developments.

Mr. Pattie

I represented the United Kingdom at a meeting of the Council of the European Space Agency on 30 and 31 January in Rome, the first such Council at Ministerial level since 1977. I am arranging for copies of the Council's resolution and final declaration which were published at the end of the meeting to be placed in the Library of the House.

The resolution approves a long-term European space plan covering the agency's activities for the next 10 years. These will include new developments in the field of man-in-space and in-orbit infrastructure — the Columbus space station programme; development of a new heavy-lift capability launcher Ariane-5; an expansion of the scientific programme by 5 per cent. a year for the next 5 years; and continuing developments in the satellite technology for communications and remote sensing.

The Council welcomed and accepted President Reagan's invitation to participate in the space station and the Columbus programme will be Europe's proposed contribution. For the United Kingdom, I warmly endorsed the proposals overall. I was able to secure agreement from other member states that Britain's industrial participation in the Columbus programme should include the lead in studies on free-flying, astronaut-tended platforms and, on this basis, indicated that we shall contribute 15 per cent. to the £50 million two-year feasibility phase of this programme. With a view to possible later adoption by ESA, the United Kingdom was also invited to keep its ESA partners informed of its further studies on a next-generation technology proposal for a horizontal take-off and landing space vehicle..