British Science Minister, David Willetts revealed the UK has signed new agreements with NASA and the Russian Federal Space Bureau during his first major speech on space at the Farnborough Airshow. Britain created its own Space Agency this year amid expectations the £230million agency, based in Swindon Wiltshire, will earn billions with its expertise and hardware.
Mr Willetts said,""I am delighted to usher in an era of greater co-operation between our nations´ space activities. These historic agreements promise to help us unlock some of the mysteries of the universe and develop a better understanding of our planet.
"These agreements show our international partners view Britain as a major player in the space industry. They will help bring new opportunities for British innovators."
Under the terms of the agreement, the UK Space Agency and NASA will look for new areas where they can work together.
There are a number of areas ready for greater co-operation such as space exploration to improve scientific understanding of the universe and earth sciences, which includes climate change.
The Memorandum of Understanding with Russia will help pave the way to a more detailed agreement between the two countries, which will address specific customs and tax issues raised previously.
“It [the agreement] will resolve some simple commercial issues about customs duties, so that if the Russians buy British space equipment, there be more favorable conditions under the agreement,” Willetts told media.
Both countries’ space industries would be significantly boosted by the deal, which would also encourage collaboration between British and Russian scientists, Willetts said.
The agreement could also improve the chances that Britain’s first official astronaut, Major Tim Peake, an army helicopter pilot, will eventually fly to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
British space scientists welcomed cooperation with Russia. Ken Pounds, Professor of Space Physics at the University of Leicester, said: “There’s a complementarity -- Russia is extremely proficient at getting stuff into space and we have a bit of a lead on the high tech equipment, detectors and computers so working together makes sense.”