August 2019: News from your local MP
Space research is vital for our future
AS Space Minister, I was honoured last month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, marking half a century since the historic launch and moon landing which captured the imagination of people all around the world in 1969.
The events of that July have inspired generation after generation and the effects will reverberate for years to come. For decades now, we have been able to reap the benefits from the research needed to explore space, from laser eye surgery to portable X-ray machines.
We can continue to build on our efforts in space research and technology development, for example by using satellites to aid the observation of the changes happening to our planet. This will be vital to help us deal with the challenges we face right here on Earth.
This is why last month I was also very proud to announce that the UK Space Agency and NASA have agreed to enhance our cooperation and will work together on joint scientific projects and future lunar missions. This new partnership between the UK and the USA, along with our continued commitment to the European Space Agency as we leave the EU, will allow the UK to embrace and lead in the new Space Age and could mean we are one step closer to seeing a Briton walk on the Moon.
As the local MP, I was also delighted to see that the Jodrell Bank Observatory here in the UK recently became our country’s 32nd site to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. The Observatory is home to the Lovell Telescope, the world’s third-largest steerable radio telescope named after founder and famous South Gloucestershire resident Sir Bernard Lovell.
The world-renowned scientist and physicist was born and raised in Oldland Common and educated at Kingswood Grammar School, now King’s Oak Academy, and went on to receive a first-class degree from the University of Bristol. I am proud of this addition to the prestigious UNESCO list, in recognition of our local astronomer’s pioneering work and research, his life and achievements an example of what South Gloucestershire children can aspire to.
Space will continue to inspire and amaze all of us for years to come, and as a country I know we will continue to build on our strengths to ensure space remains a key priority in the future.
n Since he wrote this column, Mr Skidmore has been given a different job by the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson: Minister for Health and Social Care.