The UK Space Agency has released its National Strategy for Space Environments and Human Spaceflight to detail how it plans to pursue space exploration with humans and robots.
The 16-page strategy document covers a range of scientific and technical disciplines, giving a picture of activities that use the space environment — from fundamental physics and novel materials to healthcare technologies and space science — and sets out the UK's vision for human spaceflight.
A public consultation on the Strategy was conducted last year, following which a government response was published and the draft Strategy revised.
Why a UK strategy?
European astronaut Tim Peake, a former British Army helicopter pilot, was selected from thousands of applicants from across Europe to join the ESA astronaut corps in 2009.
Peake's first mission was announced in May 2013 and he is slated to fly on the International Space Station for a six-month mission in November. Peake will become the first UK Government-backed British astronaut, the first British astronaut to visit the ISS and a very visible demonstration of UK ambition for human spaceflight.
As discussed in the strategy document, this upcoming mission to the space station presents an opportunity to showcase leading UK science and technology and a unique focus to inspire people, especially the young into science.
The intent is that UK experiments will improve our understanding of human health here on Earth, as well as the effects of long duration human space travel.
To view the UK Space Agency's report, read: UK National Strategy for Space Environments and Human Spaceflight.
Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is former director of research for the National Commission on Space and is co-author of Buzz Aldrin's 2013 book "Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration," published by National Geographic, with a new updated paperback version to be released in May. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Story published on Space.com.