Glasgow North West MP Carol Monaghan has said that Scotland could lead a thriving UK space industry in a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday [14th January].
The SNP-led debate came in advance of Major Tim Peake’s spacewalk on Friday [15th January] and follows the announcement in March 2015 of the shortlist of locations for the UK’s first spaceport. Four of the six sites shortlisted are in Scotland, including Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Macrihanish Airport near Campbeltown, Stornoway Airport, and RAF Leuchars.
Monaghan, a former physics teacher and member of the Science and Technology Select Committee, addressed the lack of teachers in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – and called on the Education Secretary to invest in the recruitment and retention of these teachers.
Commenting, Monaghan said:
“The space industry has impacted modern, day-to-day life in many ways: from spin-off technologies ranging from robotic prosthetic limbs to memory foam mattresses, satellite technology which is now fundamental to how we live our lives today and the exploration of other worlds which may one day be habitable by humans.
“The real prospect of establishing a spaceport in Scotland, such as Glasgow Prestwick Airport, is an exciting and important one. The space industry is already a strong economic asset to Scotland, with companies such as Clyde Space building satellites around the world. However, this economic benefit would be huge if we were to have our own spaceport, feeding companies and businesses across the West of Scotland.
“I was pleased to hear so many Members speak during the debate about the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths and of getting girls involved in those STEM subjects. However, to do that, we need teachers in place, and a serious policy of recruitment and retention of teachers. We need to think about how we will attract people from other areas into teaching.
“I ask the Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP, to commit to the space industry not just financially, but in terms of advertising and ambition. We must have the ambition and we must say to our young people, ‘This is for you and it is available to everybody.’ On the back of Tim Peake’s mission, which has been so inspirational to watch, we really need to get the message out there that space is open for business. I now call on the Minister to make it so.”
Welcoming the debate, actor William Shatner, Star Trek’s Captain James T Kirk, said:
“Space is one of the last known frontiers mostly untouched by mankind and his politics. In opening a debate on this subject, my hope is you take the tenets of Star Trek’s prime directive to universally and peacefully share in the exploration of it. I wish you all a wonderful debate. My best, Bill.” While George Takei, Star Trek’s Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, tweeted:
“I wish the SNP and the House of Commons well on their debate about their space program tomorrow. #WhereNoBritHasGoneBefore”