Attention Barycentre of the Space Race

Posted: December 13, 2010 in News Stories

It has come across as a rather quirky and interesting news story, but most news organisations have been surprised by the substance behind the space industry on the Isle of Man.

A report from space and aerospace market analysts ASCEND has ranked the Isle of Man behind the United States, Russia, China and India as one of the nations expected to lead the race in a return to the moon.

There are two projects securing the Isle of Man’s 5th position in ASCEND’s prediction. One of those is Excalibur Almaz, a fully orbital space tourism company based on the Island.

The Island also boasts Odyssey Moon, a company taking part in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize. This is a quest for challengers to manufacture the first privately built rover to be landed on the surface of the moon. The rover must travel for 50 metres and send back a data package remaining active for 24 hours.

Tim Craine, Director of the Business Development Agency and the Department for Economic Development, responsible for Space-commerce said, “Well, having an independent endorsement of the Isle of Man is important, and when an an external body actually ranks the Isle for Man highly, it is a really strong selling message.”

Excalibur Almaz will potentially be offering trips around the moon and back. They are hoping to have their first test launch of one of their unmanned capsules in 2013.

Art Dula, Chief Executive Officer of Excalibur Almaz Limited said, “The Isle of Man is a principle venue for the world’s growing commercial space industry.  The regulatory and insurance support from the Isle of Man government for orbital space tourism has been invaluable in aiding our business and drawing in the talent.”

It is a wonder that the island of around 80,000 inhabitants living within 221 square miles, is expected to win the space race ahead of Europe. Isle of Man born man Chris Stott left the Isle of Man to work in the USA for Lock Heed Martin, then Boeing, before realizing that the Isle of Man could become a jurisdiction with which you could apply for orbital filing slots.

After this discovery Mr Stott entered into an agreement with the Isle of Man government to provide his services, creating a profile for the island in the space industry.

On this topic, Mr Tim Craine added, “A lot has happened in quite a cluster now, to give us that international profile and endorsement. The companies in the pipeline who are also looking to relocate to the Isle of Man gives us great confidence, the growth that we have experienced to date will continue into the future.”

4th October 2008, saw the attendance of international representatives of the space community such as George Abbey, former director of the NASA Johnson Space Centers and Flight Crew Operations Directorate and Senior Fellow for Space Studies from the Baker Institute at Rice University, Texas, and Soyeon Yi, the first citizen of South Korea and second Asian woman ever to go into space.

The occasion was a ceremony to celebrate The International Space University’s selection of a location in extending the International Institute of Space Commerce (IISC) outside of Strasbourg, won by the Isle of Man.

The Island is the ideal location for the establishment of the IISC, given the clustering of established space companies (SES, Inmarsat, Telesat, ManSat and Sea Launch), low taxes, friendly legislation and the government’s affability toward space commerce development.

The Isle of Man has been a sponsor of the ISU now for 4 years, there is a room at the ISU named the IOM room in reverence to the Island. Caines Lawyers on the Isle of Man fund the annual best student prize at ISU, this association has raised their profile and brought with it a lot of international recognition for the Island.

So, the Isle of Man has become quite the headline grabber today. It is to be expected that the Island’s space industry will now be rejoicing in their new prestigious achievement.


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