THE Isle of Man’s burgeoning space-sector has attracted the attention of the BBC, who sent a crew from regional current affairs programme Inside Out over to film a piece to be aired on BBC One at 7.30pm this evening (Monday).
Presenter Jacey Normand, from Inside Out’s North West team, made the trip over the Irish Sea.
‘From our point of view, it’s an incredible story, and right on our doorstep,’ she said. ‘The island is very proud of its space industry, and it should be.’
Jacey added: ‘The Isle of Man is currently the European leader for space, and is seen as being the fourth most likely nation to launch an expedition to the moon after the US, China and Russia.
‘The story has been around for a while. We wanted to get over, and we wanted to explore it properly.’
The crew were shown around the hangar at Jurby Airfield, which houses commercial space exploration company Excalibur Almaz’s fleet of spacecraft.
The company made headlines earlier in the year with the announcement it would be the first organisation ready to take passengers on private lunar expeditions – as early as 2015 – for the princely sum of £100 million.
‘When you meet them you realise it’s not just a hangar of old Russian spacecraft – I was sat in something that had actually been to the moon,’ said Jacey.
‘They’re convinced that their space tourist is out there. If they are, that person will be remembered like Christopher Colombus.’
The Inside Out crew were equally impressed by the success of Onchan-based company CVI Melles Griot, which built specialist optics for NASA’s Curiosity Rover which landed on Mars in August.
‘It’s the furthest a Manx-made product has ever travelled, and shows the island is at the forefront of this kind of production,’ said Jacey.
The programme will also feature the International Institute of Space Commerce, housed at the Nunnery, and plans to establish island-based masters degree courses that will produce the ‘space cadets of tomorrow’.