The British leader of a Europe-wide space project now under threat says that the United Kingdom will be reduced to "hang-ing onto people's coat tails" if problems in space research funding are not resolved.
Anthony Dean is principal investigator for one of two instruments to be launched on Integral, the European Space Agency's high energy space science mission for the turn of the century. He was speaking after warnings by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council that it cannot fund British involvement in the project unless the Government steps in and reduces its other spending obligations.
Dr Dean, senior lecturer in physics atSouthampton University, has developed a gamma ray imager which has passed technical, financial and scientific assessments and been accepted on the International Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory. But the PPARC now says that its annual subscriptions to the European Space Agency are so great that it cannot afford to also finance British instruments to go on European space missions.
Dr Dean said: "We were told to get a mission with the European Space Agency. Our cost figures haven't changed -- we've just done what we were told to do. We are a major partner in the ESA. The question is," he continued,"do you want to be doing things at a top level or do you want to be hanging on to people's coat tails?"