Bell Pottinger lobbies for more space project cash

The British space industry has brought in Bell Pottinger Public Affairs as it looks to persuade the Government to spend more on space exp­loration.

UKSpace, the trade association of the space industry, has appointed the agency following a three-way pitch. It is understood that Good Relations and Precise Public Aff­airs also pitched.

BPPA chair Peter Bingle said: ‘The remit is to raise the profile and thereby the influence of the UK space industry with government and key opinion formers.'

The appointment of BPPA comes as the Government looks to refresh the UK's civil space strategy. Last month, science and innovation minister Malcolm Wicks launched a public consultation on a new strategy.

The space industry intends to lobby hard to get ministers to release more funds for projects. The Government spends a relatively small sum on its civil space programme - just over £200m a year.

Germany spends twice this amount and France four times as much.

There is also growing concern that the UK space industry risks falling behind nations such as India and China, which are investing heavily in space exploration.

Industry chiefs believe that extra government support is needed if UK success in satellite and other space technologies is to be maintained. In particular, they are keen to get the go-ahead for two proposed robotic missions to the surface of the moon known as MoonLITE and MoonRaker.

The industry will be hoping that future projects are more successful than the last high- profile British effort. In 2004, Beagle 2 was sent to study Mars for signs of life but failed to respond after landing.

The account is believed to be worth an initial £50,000 but could prove more lucrative for BPPA if it leads to further business with individual members of the trade association - namely suppliers to the civil air transport, aerospace defence and space markets.

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