The UK’s decision to shun human spaceflight was a mistake that needs to be changed, says Europe’s International Space Station programme chief … Alan Thirkettle, a Brit who left the country to head European Space Agency (Esa) projects.
“The UK has a long and noble tradition for exploration across our planet. It is time for a new vision and a more distant voyage.”
Today, the United Kingdom contributes less than 9% of the ESA budget with the majority coming from France, Germany and Italy. Why did things get to such a state? The truth, of course, is amazing.
It’s 1988. And you’re part of the Prospero Group
“Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,”
During the 1970s, the space race between the US and the Soviet Union cooled with the race to the moon being allegedly won by the US in their Apollo series. The ESA was quickly able to establish itself as a forerunner in space exploration and quickly became the leader in commercial space flights and payload delivery. Their delivery vehicle, the Ariane series, was proving successful despite negative PR following some flight failures.
The bulk of their rocket science was of course derived from post-war military science and focussed on the delivery of satellites. Prospero X-3 was the only British satellite to be launched by a British rocket and was launched with only a single experiment on board, an apparatus designed to test solar cells. After only two years component failure on Prospero resulted in the programme being labelled an abject failure. But the solar cell experiment was not the only equipment on board. Prospero can still be heard transmitting unknown coordinates and has a orbital lifetime of almost 100 years.
In The Tempest, Prospero was a deposed king who became a sorcerer, a godlike figure. The Prospero which orbits above us certainly has some such qualities.
Prospero can be described as many things. A vehicle. A weapon. A resource.
Prospero can transport objects from one place to another without them crossing the intervening space. Or time.
Prospero represents one of a few spatial and temporal man-made anomalies. On board was a smaller, more compact version of the devices which caused the Philadelphia Experiment and also used in the Montauk Project at Camp Hero. It was felt by the Prospero Group, part of the British National Space Agency, that building the device into something as cumbersome as a destroyer was pointless and keeping it on the ground was tantamount to useless as well as insanely dangerous. As a result, Prospero was launched into space.
Prospero can send people and objects to anything it can see. This includes places it can see in its past. So if you need to be in a certain place at a certain time, it will attempt to send you as close as possible before that time. This can also mean having objects sent into obscure places as they may need to lie undiscovered for days or weeks before being retrieved.
- Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia Pennsylvania,
- July 22nd, 1943
- October 28th, 1943
- Montauk Point, Long Island, 1981-1983
- Prospero Orbit, October 1971 – June 2064
Still needs filled out:
1. Where does Prospero orbit and what can it see?
2. We’ve got a very limited but very relevant time travel mechanism
3. Other co-terminous places may exist….