Man on the Moon: Technology then and now

On the 40th anniversary of the first moon landings, we take a look at how space technology has developed and what it might mean for the UK.

Computer technology and space travel then have never been as closely linked as some may assume. However, Norris recalls a time in the 1970s where the space program really pushed the bar for the computer industry.

"[Logica] used the European space program to buy the first few examples of ICL mainframe computers," he said. "And Logica provided the array processor it wasn't a chip but came in quite a large box! In the 1970s, space was trying to help the European computer industry, but sadly it didn't succeed and the American computer industry soon dominated."

New interest

As for the future, Norris said that he hoped the anniversary of the Apollo missions would rekindle people's interest in space, and that he hoped people would appreciate many of the benefits that space travel has brought. These include, digital TV, weather reporting, climate change observation satellite navigation and the inevitable military uses.

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"Young people are used to being able to know where they are using GPS in their phones. The funny thing is that we don't realise that it's down to satellites in space. Space exploration is the sexy end, but the bread and butter is in satellites."

Norris also bemoaned the fact that space activities, particularly the British contribution are under reported. According to him, the space programmes in the UK employs 19,000 people directly, while the supply chain supports up to 70,000 people making it the most high tech industry in the county along with pharmaceuticals with a high level of ROI and a good growth rate.

Perhaps with the attention focussed back on space with Apollo, and if the US space programme does happen, the UK will continue to reap some of the benefits of that.

And if not, we can also in the future we can also look forward to potential space tourism, with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the project.

Therefore, if one day you hope to get into space, if only for few minutes, you might be better off investing in the Virgin TV platform, rather than the more appropriately named Sky.

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