A dare

Dare

I promise this is the last space post, honest, but a stupid thought popped into my head that I needed to write down. Not an unusual occurance, but hey.

I was reading a story about the BBC and it’s annual budget, as guaranteed by licence fee collection:

“The BBC spent �280m last year on its digital channels, but this is dwarfed by the corporation’s total budget of �2.5bn.”

The BBC is about to enter a period of scrutiny, examining it’s mission and output in order to review whether it should keep that guaranteed income. So my proposal is for them to radically reassess their mission – working from the money back, and The Earth outward.

The BBC should devote all their resources to conquering Space.

The chairman of the BBC, Gavyn Davies should nominate Dr. Colin Pillinger as the next director-general, and announce that from the end of 2004 there will be no more TV, no more radio, no more internet services. All of the licence fee income will be ploughed into space exploration.

2.5billion pounds a year is 4.55billion dollars at today’s exchange rates. In one year, the newly rebranded BSC: British Space Command, will have outstripped Bush’s recently-announced 5 year NASA budget increase.

By the time the ISS is complete and the Shuttle retired, we could have an operational chemical rocket launch system, and we could flog launch rights back to NASA. More cash. If we wanted to that is.

The first ten years budget of 40-50 billion dollars instead gets building something far cooler than that. The 8 billion of the first couple of years gets sunk into the successful production of kilometer-long carbon nanotube hausers amongst other nanowonders; the patents from which are owned by the british public (they pay the licence fee, remember) meaning every household recieves back 10s of thousands of pounds in dividends.

The UK public might not know much about material science, but they know what they like. The nation is more united than they have ever been by a live broadcast of a wedding of a minor royal or an EastEnder.

By 2010, the BSC has built a space elevator (invented by a Brit, of course) and start shuttling stuff up-and-down in 2012 to the ISS, which we renew and expand into a launch platform.

The gossamer-light probes and manned exploration vehicles that have been on the drawing board for a couple of years get shifted into microgravity production. British astronauts, reared on MaxPower and TopGear, are warned to stop the taunting buzzruns they’ve taken to doing around the slower American ironclads.

The money’s rolling in by now, from tech spinoffs patents and space elevator usage – and so the government asks the UK public if they want the telly switched back on.

The public, being shareholders in the most wildly-successful commerical adventure since the East India Company, and wanting for nothing, say “nah it’s ok… anyway, we’re enjoying the live feeds of our Wayne mooning the yanks at MACH 22″

Still good friends with NASA, the BSC undertakes to start building the foundation s of the international moonbase in 2018, two years earlier than planned, on the condition that it be named “Anderson-1″

0 comments
  1. Pure genius Matt. If we can start a campaign to get Sky TV subscriptions in there too we would be well sorted.

  2. Ant said:

    I think all the snow and lack of sunshine have flipped your lid mate. But in the back of my head I’m thinking ‘YEAH, that’s a GREAT idea’… because you’re right.

    I’m sure if the British public could do without their daily fix of EastEnders and the wider world could survive 10 years without some form of unbiased reporting, it’d put the Brits back on top of the world… quite literally!

  3. Thanks. This American Mars proponent needed a laugh to recover from the recent news’ horror – i thought they were too directly occupied with foreign policy to get so tragically, disastrously creative with the space program.

  4. simon said:

    Yes Yes Yes!
    Get petitioning, you’re onto something.

    PS. Please can Jim Davidson be sent on a one way trip to wherever – the biggest c*** in space. The Beeb owe us that.

  5. simonf said:

    It’s a long shot. But it might just work…
    love it.
    Now I understand the real reason the Blue Streak programme failed in the 1950s. They spent the bloody budget on Lord Clark’s Civilisation’ series and some early David Attenborough rubbish.
    Any chance of developing a space skimming hypersonic passenger vehicle to replace concorde while we’re about it? As a by-product, like non-stick saucepans and the moon shots?

  6. Nice one ;^)

    Note, however, that Clarke didn’t invent the idea – see the very article you liked to ! Depending on how close to the right form you want, you have a choice of Russians; one a big off target at about the time of Eiffel’s tower, another pretty much spot on about fifty years ago.

    Also, Charles Sheffield (another scientist who writes sci-fi) produced a story playing with a space elevator at almost exactly the same time as Clarke.

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