Piers calls for more Brits in space

British space hero Piers Sellers has called on the UK to provide astronauts for the International Space Station. Answering a question from Skymania News, Nasa veteran Piers indicated that he would like to see the Government reverse its opposition to human spaceflight.

Piers Sellers with Paul SutherlandPiers, who has twice flown on the space shuttle, most recently aboard Discovery in July, was talking in London after addressing a meeting of young scientist students from local schools.

He told the meeting, organised by the British Interplanetary Society, that he wanted to see many of today’s schoolchildren grow up to be astronauts too.

But I pointed out that Piers, from Crowborough, East Sussex, had to emigrate to the USA to follow his space dream, just like fellow Brits Michael Foale and Nicholas Patrick, who makes his first launch next month.

Piers, who has carried out six spacewalks to help build the International Space Station, replied: “There are many countries involved in the space station – the US, Russia, Canada, European countries, Japan.

“I’m hoping that one day Britain will join in. It’s really up to British taxpayers and the Department of Science but I really hope that one day Britain will be there too.”

Climate expert Piers, 51, who studied and universities at Edinburgh and Leeds, added: “You have to sit down and take a long hard look at the benefits and costs of human spaceflight. I think you’ll find that all countries that have been involved are glad they’re in there, they’re happy to be in there.

“Don’t forget that all the millions of dollars that get spent, they get spent here on technical jobs and can have significant benefit for the British national interest.

“It’s not like you are taking the money and just throwing it into space. Every pound that gets spent is spent on jobs in British technology and science.”

The photo, showing me with Piers, was taken by Robin Scagell, of Galaxy Picture Library.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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