A small but highly significant step for Britain in space

Professor Ken Pounds (pictured),  Emeritus Professor of Space Physics and a local pioneer of Space Research, has hailed the significance of Tim Peake becoming the first British astronaut in orbit, but warned there is so far no funding beyond his present mission on the International Space Station.

In a letter to The Times: “As we enjoy the rare pleasure of watching a Briton in space – a first step perhaps to the UK joining an international programme for human exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond – it is important to note that the present UK commitment does not extend beyond Tim Peake’s current mission.”

He does, however, end his letter on an optimistic note: “having taken that first small – but highly visible - step for the UK, there is now a better chance we will not be left behind as humans set out on the grand adventure to explore our solar system.”

Ken Pounds has played a key role in establishing the international status of the University’s Space Programme Group since coming to Leicester as a junior lecturer in 1960, collaborating in many space missions with NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

After returning to the University he resumed an active interest in the physics of Active Galaxies, playing a leading role in establishing the existence powerful ionised winds launched from supermassive black hole at the centre of many external galaxies.