Re: Space Sector
"Does this mean the British Government has finally realized that space is up there and may be quite lucrative?"
The UK has the smallest space budget of any spacefaring EU country - it's at the level of a flagwaving exercise, not serious investment.
Beagle stands out as a case in point. It got to mars in spite of govt funding, not because of it(*) - and if govt funding had been forthcoming sooner than it did, it wouldn't have been equipped with _used_ airbags, which in all liklihood froze solid on the way to mars, thereby failing to inflate.
(*) Govt money came onboard only when it was clear that Beagle was going to Mars anyway and by stumping up the cash they could claim it as a "wonderful british project". Even then they nearly killed the lander entirely by delaying things and only coming up with the money too late for new airbags to be manufactured in time for integration/launch.
SSTL is a commercial outfit which relies on contract income from EU and other investors - there is virtually no input direct from the UK and what comes from the ESA and chums is directly proportional to the amount of money the UK puts into the EU pot (SSTL could do a lot more, but the EU rules limit how much business can be punted their way, so they're very keen to get private money, which has no such restrictions)
This bird is a testbed, aimed at proving a few points, but there's no guarantee decent funding will happen as a result of it.
Despite many notable sucesses., many of the UK's best space engineers and scientists are regularly faced with the hard choice of finding employment for overseas agencies or finding a completely different career path in the UK, as you can't eat passion for a job and living from hand to mouth on 60-100 hour weeks and substandard pay eventually burns people out.