Attractions industry news

04 Dec 2019

Astronaut Tim Peake calls for more investment in science

British astronaut Tim Peake has urged the UK government to invest more in science, education and research and development.

Since 1994 players of the National Lottery have raised more than £596m (€703m, $780m) for science-related projects, with more than £310m (€366m, $405m)of that sum going to science centres and museums across the UK, including The W5 Science & Discovery Centre in Belfast, the Science Museum in London and the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in Manchester.

Speaking at an event celebrating the UK National Lottery's 25th birthday, Peake told the PA news agency that lottery funding enables children to visit these science centres and museums for free, encouraging an interest in these subjects for visitors to potentially go on to work in a scientific field.

"Lottery funding allows these establishments to increase their attractions and to improve the number of exhibits that are there, and also keep the UK at the forefront," said Peake. It's played a significant part in furthering science and education over the past 25 years and this can be seen in abundance through these attractions."

Peake added that while the government is beginning to recognise the importance of investing in these sectors, more can be done in the UK for the country to benefit from future technologies.

"I think slowly that the government is realising what our future is, whether it's around autonomous vehicles, whether it's around quantum computing, artificial intelligence, potential future energy source such as nuclear fusion," he said.

"If we don't invest in R&D then we're not going to reap the rewards of what potential that has to offer us in the future. I think slowly that the government is realising that and starting to invest a more appropriate amount."

The UK government has committed a reported £374m (€441m, $489m) per year over the next five years to the European Space Agency's (ESA) budget of £12.3bn (€14.5bn, $16.1bn), however Peake - who is the first British/ESA-funded astronaut and spent more than 180 days on the International Space Station in 2015/16 - argues that more needs to be done regarding future technologies and the climate crisis.

"In terms of space industry, we've gone from strength to strength and are hoping to continue to do so. So, it's becoming more of a focus – things such as climate and technology are also coming to the forefront," he said.

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