Reacting to the crash of the Virgin Galactic test-flight in the Mojave desert, Adam Afriyie has called for a calm and reasoned response.
Mr Afriyie, who chairs the Parliamentary Space Committee commented:
“It is immensely sad to hear that one of the pioneering test pilots has died in the Virgin Galactic crash last week.
“Since William Huskisson, MP for Liverpool, was one of the first casualties of the then-emerging steam locomotive in 1830, the risks associated with the first generation of flight and transport technologies is well known. Trains and aircraft are now some of the safest forms of transport which have linked continents and boosted prosperity worldwide.
“It is only through innovation, trials, research and investment that sub-orbital space flight will become a safe technology for the public in the future, and we must thank the brave and experienced test pilots for the work they do.
“Whether it’s a public venture through NASA or private venture any fatalities must be investigated carefully, so that the causes can be identified and risks mitigated for the future, but it would be unwise, and unworthy of the test pilots, to halt progress.
“Commercial space flight is still in the early and experimental phase and every astronaut and pilot is aware of the risks when they choose to participate.
“Space exploration brings enormous benefits to us all and has been behind instrumental in developing technologies we now take for granted, such as mobile phones, cameras, SatNav systems, water filtration and medical scanning devices. The space industry enhances economic growth and technological advance not just in the UK, but globally.
“For the future of research, communications technology and high-speed travel, we must react calmly and sensitively to the sad news surrounding the Virgin Galactic test flight, whilst maintaining our commitment to innovation that will benefit humanity as a whole.