back to article UK Space Agency cracks open its wallet, fishes out a paltry £2m for Brit plans to return to orbit

The UK Space Agency has flung open the doors on a mighty £2m fund aimed imbuing Blighty with spaceflight capabilities. The agency breathlessly speculated this morning that existing airports could develop the capability for spaceplanes to take off and deploy satellites, or send vehicles on sub-orbital jaunts. We, however, …

  1. lglethal Silver badge

    BS for one and all...

    "Last year the UK government greenlit £92m on pondering if it could make its very own Brexit Satellite (BS)..."

    I would contend that the UK government is an absolute master at producing BS...

    1. Spherical Cow

      Re: BS for one and all...

      ... and all the required hot air. Ballockets away!

      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: BS for one and all...

        Brexit, the gift that keeps on fucking us all.

  2. Secta_Protecta

    Oh My!

    I'm sure ESA are shitting themselves...

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Oh My!

      On the basis of every reaction having an equal and opposite reaction, I suspect the resulting deltaV will somewhat modest from the ESA-faeco-ejection-engine.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Oh My!

      "'m sure ESA are shitting themselves".

      Calm down, ESA is no doubt expecting the UK to rearrange it's agreement if a Brexit. More can be achieve together unless the "ego" is hugely inflated.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Using the rule of thumb that getting something into orbit costs its weight in gold, £2,000,000 is just enough to rid the planet of one person.

    1. Spherical Cow

      Re: Nominations?

      So... putting saffron into orbit is relatively cheap then, right?

      1. Uncle Slacky

        Re: Nominations?

        Or inkjet printer ink...

    2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Nominations?

      is just enough to rid the planet of one person.

      I nominate Theresa Mary May.

      NOTE: Return not necessary.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: Nominations?

        Maybe we could get a gofundme or kickstarter going, earn another 2 million from that and send chris 'useless twat' grayling into orbit too

        (and another 2million in compensation for whatever country he eventually comes down on)

        1. 96percentchimp

          Re: Nominations?

          A whiff of Failing Grayling would guarantee that nothing will ever launch.

      2. Seanmon

        Re: Nominations?

        Or half a Donald Trump.

        1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

          Re: Nominations?

          Or half a Donald Trump.

          Not possible.

          His ego is too big to fit into the capsule.

  4. Spherical Cow

    0 rly?

    Going to need a few more zeros to reach zero gravity.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Compare that

    To the money spunked on failed gov' IT rollouts and it shows how serious they are about developing anything sciencey.

  6. Blockchain commentard

    Surely a horizontal launch is a bad idea. You need to point upwards to get into space, otherwise you just end up in the neighbours garden !!!!

    1. Spherical Cow

      ...or the pub, with any luck!

    2. Lars Silver badge

      @Blockchain commentard

      Are you a "flat earther" by any chance.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      I'm going to be pedantic, and point out that most of the propellant* in a rocket launch goes towards accelerating the vehicle sideways, rather than into lifting it up.

      The only reason rockets go up first and then turn sideways is because it's easier to go fast if you go up high where there's less atmospheric drag.

      On the Moon (as an example), as long as there's no mountains or anything in front of you, you could start your rocket flying sideways right away, and save a bit of delta-V otherwise lost to fighting gravity.

      * approx 7-8 times more

      1. ibmalone

        Maybe my favourite XKCD: "Space isn't like this:", "Space is like this:".

        (Well, that or

        1. Raging Bool

          XKCD and space

          My favourite (apart from Up-Goer 5) is this one:

      2. Lars Silver badge


        "most of the propellant* in a rocket launch goes towards accelerating the vehicle sideways, rather than into lifting it up.".

        A bit about that claim.

        Standing say on the equator, we move sideways at the speed of 40.000km/24h which is 1666 km/h and that is why it's more feasible to launch closer to the equator. The rocket goes straight up in relation to it self, shortest route through the atmosphere.

        The only way for us to see it go straight up is if it was launched from one of the poles.

        And meanwhile we run around the sun at 107.000 km/h which means that some, in my opinion, rather fantastic calculations are needed to take a short shot to Mars, and still that mathematics is old stuff.

    4. MrXavia

      To get to space yes, but to get to orbit you need to go horizontal really really fast!

      The vertical bit is to get outside this thick atmosphere so you can go that fast!

  7. sawatts

    £2m will probably end up in the pockets of a marketing company.

    Remember when the UK launched its own satellite on its own rocket?

    1. 0laf

      No. But then that was in 1971 a good bit before I was born and I'm not considered young any more.

    2. Mark Dempster

      >Remember when the UK launched its own satellite on its own rocket?<

      The last surviving rocket of that type is on display at the Space Centre in Leicester

      1. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Dubious Honours

        The UK hold the Honour of being the only nation to develop satelite launch capability the give up .....

        Still Aus are re-opening woomera, so we could probably jump in on that....

        and R4 is currently suspended from the ceiling on Level 0 in the Science Museum London

        so with £2m we might be able to get that in working order and into the air....

        1. lglethal Silver badge

          Re: Dubious Honours

          and R4 is currently suspended from the ceiling on Level 0 in the Science Museum London

          so with £2m we might be able to get that in working order and into the air....

          I dont know about that, have you ever tried to walk out of a museum with one of the exhibits? The staff tend to get really really angry, I'm not even sure they'd let you walk out with the rocket even if you gave them the £2m. Selfish buggers, only thinking about themselves...

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Dubious Honours

          "The UK hold the Honour of being the only nation to develop satelite launch capability the give up ....."

          thats our thing isnt it? invent stuff and then let everyone else get on with it .....

          £2m will buy a handful of tickets on Bransons space tour thing!

          1. Lars Silver badge

            Re: Dubious Honours

            "thats our thing isnt it? invent stuff and then let everyone else get on with it .".

            That seems to be a very popular British mantra.

            Give me ten examples and then lets have a look at it again.

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Dubious Honours

              How about trains? We invented them (more or less) and we're rubbish at them.

            2. MrXavia

              Re: Dubious Honours

              Challenge accepted!

              TV - John Logie Baird

              Jet Engine - Sir Frank Whittle

              Cat's Eyes - Percy Shaw

              High Strength Carbon Fibre - Royal Aircraft Establishment

              Cash machines - James Goodfellow

              3D Gaming (Elite) - David Braben

              Thermos flask - Sir James Dewar

              Lawnmower - Edwin Beard Budding

              Light Bulb - Joseph Swan

              Pneumatic Tyre - John Boyd Dunlop

              World Wide Web - Tim Berners-Lee

              Hypodermic Syringe - Alexander Wood

              Telephone - Alexander Graham Bell

              Electric Motor - Michael Faraday

              Photography - William Henry Fox Talbot

              Electronic Programmable Computer - Tommy Flowers

              (well maybe we've not abandoned all of these, but they were invented in Britain and are now used all over the world, many we no longer make here)

              1. Lars Silver badge

                Re: Dubious Honours


                Thanks for responding to my fishing,

                My problem now is that there is murder in the eyes of my wife, if I as much as looks towards a keyboard when her love and my sweat is needed in the garden.

                So lets return no later than Monday.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Leicester ?

        No wonder no-one knows about it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Being strictly accurate...

        ">Remember when the UK launched its own satellite on its own rocket?<

        The last surviving rocket of that type is on display at the Space Centre in Leicester"

        The surviving Black Arrow satellite launcher is at the Science Museum in London - they used to have it on display at more-or-less ground level, but it's hung up high now and you can't examine it closely which I think is a shame.

        The surviving Black Knight sounding rockets - the ancestor to Black Arrow - are at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh and the World Museum in Liverpool.

        The Leicester Space Centre has a couple of big ballistic missiles: a US Thor and a British Blue Streak. Neither use the British designed (developed from WWII German tech) hydrogen peroxide/kerosene engines which powered the Black Knight and Black Arrow, although the Thor missile was the basis of the Thor and Delta satellite launchers, and Blue Streak was used as the first stage of the Europa launcher of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO). Blue Streak turned out reliable, but Europa never managed a fully successful launch and ELDO was wound up.

        From what I've just read, ELDO was wound up in part because the UK government decided to go for Black Arrow and pulled out of ELDO. After ELDO was wound up, the ESA was set up to develop a new launcher and what with one thing and another we got the Ariane 1 rocket which was largely a French project, with the UK being a marginal player. Well done the ESA - but a real shame that our politicians didn't have the imagination to stick with the space launch business back then.

      4. Andrew Newstead

        Not quite

        The last all British rocket that launched a British satellite (in fact the only one) was Black Arrow. That lives in the Science Museum in Kensington. The rocket you’re thinking of is a Blue Streak.

  8. Aladdin Sane

    Only country in the world to reach orbit and then give up.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      well, turned out there were no countries up there who hadnt developed "Flag" technology so were ripe for colonisation

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "help develop ambitious proposals"

    That has to be the greatest call for the snouts to get into the trough I have ever read.

    Had they said "Here, piggy piggy !" it would not have worked any better.

  10. MAF

    2M to develop non-existent infrastructure.

    Chris Grayling isn't involved is he...?

    1. Ian Bush

      Can't be - Chris Grayling wouldn't be interested if it's a paltry £2M to be wasted.

  11. Alister

    UK Space Agency cracks open its wallet...

    You can just imagine some grey-haired, stooped, bespectacled civil servant in the Treasury grudgingly opening a small leather shovel-purse, blowing away the dust and cobwebs, and slowly counting out 2M quid in tarnished pennies and tuppences.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: UK Space Agency cracks open its wallet...

      Indeed... and resenting every minute of having to do so, but then going to hypocritically trumpet on some shitty PR or social media site about how they are "enabling the UK to be at the centre of the space revolution".

      Or something.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: UK Space Agency cracks open its wallet...

        One would think the wallet cracking would be aimed at the Sabre project to support it more and to keep it in house. The latest tests were done in the states and I am sure the test data will have been recorded, copied and perused for subsequent use.

        It's not as if the UK gov' won't spend money, just not on really useful things.

  12. codejunky Silver badge


    £2m wont get public sector space travel out of a committee room but then thats probably the best place for it to stop. Let the private companies push this. If there is money to be made they can do it, otherwise there is plenty to waste money on. These are politicians, they could probably blow the £2m on a lunch.

  13. Mystic Megabyte

    Ready made infrastructure

    If we build square section rockets we could use the tower on Glastonbury Tor as a launcher. I claim my £2M!

  14. vtcodger Silver badge

    I did the math, but ...

    So, I did the arithmetic and found that using the rates NASA will be paying to SpaceX in 2020-2024 and today's exchange rate, two million English pounds will get about 55kg (41.7 of them pressurized) to the ISS. I also checked -- Neither Donald Trump nor Theresa May weigh less than 55 kilos although Ms May is only 5kg over. I put all that in a post nicely laid out in case anyone wanted to check the arithmetic, pressed Preview, and the Register/Opera/the CIA/Google/Microsoft/Huawei/Julian Assange or something ate my attempted post.

    BTW, on your rather tight budget, I'd look into sharing a Rocket Lab launch from New Zealand. They are quoting $5.7M for a launch. More that you folks have of course. But maybe Rocket Lab will dicker. Or maybe you can take up a collection to raise the difference. Do any of your politicians play the accordion well enough to hustle some cash on a street corner?

    1. IT's getting kinda boring

      Re: I did the math, but ...

      You could always lop off an appendage or two to make a weight saving.

      Or in Donald's case, just the hair piece and save on drag (no-one said that they had to be *inside* said launch vehicle did they).

    2. Esme

      Re: I did the math, but ...

      I reckon it'd be better to give the two million to a contracter - Copenhagen sub-orbitals. They'd love to have the cash, and they need test payloads for their program to send an astronaut up one day.. Heck, could even forget about the parachutes to save a little weight, if the test payload (Farage, May, hated politico of choice.) is a tad too heavy.

  15. DropBear

    That should suffice for _several_ almost-geostationary launches. Well, into a temporary Low Earth Orbit. Okay, technically, not literally an orbit. And it only stays up until the meteo balloon bursts. But it should pay for at least three of those - maybe even _four_!

  16. bpfh Silver badge

    UK spaceport?

    LOHAN launch site identified?

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: UK spaceport?

      How is LOHAN?

      1. Alister

        Re: UK spaceport?

        Probably very dusty...

  17. Chappers N

    Yet we can pull £150million for a pointless election... The mind boggles. What happens when you are ruled by 600+ single cell organisms.

  18. JGrimes

    British rocket

    The actual last British rocket (Black Arrow) to be successfully launched is currently located just outside Edinburgh, having been recovered from the Australian outback recently by an Edinburgh-based rocket launch company. The one in the London museum was never used.

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