HC Deb 06 June 1996 vol 278 c526W
Sir Michael Marshall

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the implications for United Kingdom space policy of the launch failure of Ariane 5; and if he will make a statement. [31872]

Mr. Ian Taylor

The loss of the European Space Agency's first Ariane 5 launch vehicle and the four CLUSTER space science satellites is a great disappointment for everyone involved. The United Kingdom Government contributed £35 million to CLUSTER and invested £12 million in instrumentation. British scientists played a prominent role in the CLUSTER mission and the setback in the research community will be keenly felt. The agency's space science programme will, however, continue to provide important opportunities for British space scientists.

The UK will continue to support competitive European launch capacity to meet commercial and research programme needs. The UK contribution to Ariane, announced in March of this year, totals £2.8 million up to 2000 for the follow on programme for infrastructure. The UK Government also contribute £5 million a year to the operations of the Kourau launch centre. The decision to re-enter the Ariane programme came as a result of discussions with industry about the priorities for British space policy. A further space policy seminar with industry is to be held on 25 June.

The Government's interest in space focuses particularly on our contribution to the science programme and the increasingly important civil activities of earth observation, pollution monitoring, mineral extraction data, global navigation, telecommunications, television and weather forecasting.