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British hopes of seeing a UK native walk on the moon have received a boost today with the announcement of a partnership between NASA and the UK Space Agency.
A statement, signed by the space agencies of the two nations, 'essentially' paves the way for the UK to send an astronaut on a lunar mission.
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It comes on the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 - four days before the iconic moment Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon for the first time.
The agreement was announced in a speech from Science Minister Chris Skidmore at the Policy Exchange in London on Embracing the New Space Age.
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Asked whether it meant the UK was one step closer to putting someone on the moon, Mr Skidmore said: 'Essentially, yes.'
He added that he did not want to offer false optimism when the first priorities 'are around earth observation, Copernicus (EU Earth observation programme), around maintaining stability of financing around our existing programmes and working towards Tim Peake getting back up for that second mission on the international space station'.
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Mr Skidmore continued: 'We know that today's announcement with NASA provides for a wider international context – of which ESA (European Space Agency) must always be our hub.
'The spokes that come off it allow for future participation, so I think an important announcement which will help pave the way for future engagement.'
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The UK Space Agency said it...
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