THE Isle of Man is another step closer in the race to the Moon, according to space industry experts.
Analysis carried out in 2010 came to the surprising conclusion that the island was the fifth most likely nation to get it flag on the Moon.
But updated research suggests that we’ve increased our chances and are now ranked fourth most likely, behind only the USA, China and Russia.
The space team at the Ascend consultancy, part of Flightglobal, says the island’s odds have been cut from 50-1 to 20-1. It is now ahead of India.
‘Is the Isle of Man trying to emulate the space-race-winning “Duchy of Grand Fenwick” in Richard Lester’s 1963 comedy film The Mouse on the Moon? We hope so,’ their report states.
The Mouse on the Moon, the sequel to The Mouse That Roared, starred Terry Thomas as a bumbling MI5 agent who tries to find out what is going on in the small Duchy of Grand Fenwick whose Prime Minister Mountjoy devises a scheme to finance his project to bring indoor plumbing to his citizens by asking the United States for a $500,000 loan for space research. Mountjoy’s son Vincent, played by Bernard Cribbins, becomes the first set foot on the Moon in a rocket fuelled by red wine.
Ascend/Flightglobal’s report says: ‘The Isle of Man, at first sight, seems a strange and unlikely contender. Nevertheless, due to its low tax regime and due to its special encouragement of space industry, it has grown its own impressive space capabilities covering space insurance, satellite operations and space manufacturing.’
The report says it island-based Excalibur Almaz firm that gives us our best chance to getting men to the Moon.
Excalibur Almaz plans to use ex-Soviet Almaz/TKS hardware including two former space stations, and converting them into a type of trans-lunar ‘space-liner’ to traverse from low Earth orbit to the Moon, avoiding the need to have a super-heavy lift launch vehicle. Each has its own re-entry capsule craft for return to Earth.
The report says: ‘This could be just the start. At a recent space tourism conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, Excalibur Almaz revealed that it has considered making lunar landings using a specially designed lunar lander but that this was something for the future and no formal approaches have been made to design firms.
‘Financing will remain the limiting factor for this imaginative bid.’
Ascend/Flightglobal says the Isle of Man may be getting its own lunar landing experience of its own via the Odyssey Moon enterprise which is attempting to land an unmanned rover on the surface as part of its attempt to win the Google Lunar X-prize.
It concludes the island has a genuine chance of making the first ‘round the Moon’ trip if the cash can be raised. ‘Landings may follow if a suitable lander is built. The bid even has NASA’s technical if not financial backing.’
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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