Tim Peake, Brexit and the UK space sector

Media captionTim Peake: Care will be needed when it comes to science

It was inevitable that Tim Peake would be asked about Brexit at the Farnborough International Air Show.

The visit - his first public engagement since returning from orbit - drew huge crowds, and everyone wanted to know what he had to say on the topic of space science and the industry that supports it.

Astronauts are well trained and speak very deliberately, of course. But in his BBC interview, Major Tim wanted to put down a few markers.

"From the point of view of the European Space Agency (Esa), the UK's participation is not affected by this EU referendum. Esa is a separate entity [to the EU]," he told BBC Breakfast.

"What we do have to be careful of is science, which will be affected by the EU Referendum, and I know that there are many people involved in science in the UK who're concerned about how that's going to be affected. So, there are certainly many areas that we need to be focussed on as we move forward, as we try to make the best for Britain out of this decision."

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Funding flows for UK’s ‘revolutionary’ Sabre rocket engine

Two-stage launcher Image copyright ORBITAL ACCESS LIMITED
Image caption Artwork: Sabre-enabled test vehicles could perhaps one day power a two-stage launcher flying out of Prestwick

The £60m UK government investment in the "revolutionary" Sabre rocket engine concept has finally started to flow.

The company behind the power unit said at the Farnborough International Air Show that this would now enable it to push ahead with a new demonstrator.

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Heady days for ocean surface mappers

Static map Image copyright CMEMS/EUMETSAT
Image caption The satellites pass over the warmer, higher (red) waters of the Gulf Stream on the same day

This is an unprecedented time for the study of the oceans.

Space agencies are now flying six satellite altimeters, returning large volumes of data on the height and shape of the sea surface - and in rapid time.

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Europe races to meet Orion deadline

Orion ship Image copyright NASA
Image caption Artist's impression: The conical Orion capsule sits in front of its European service module

European industry has begun assembling the "back end" of the Orion crewship that is due to make an important 2018 demonstration flight around the Moon.

Orion is the next-generation vehicle that the US space agency (Nasa) will use to send astronauts beyond Earth, to destinations like asteroids and Mars.

Read full article Europe races to meet Orion deadline

Solar Impulse: A repaired plane and team

Media captionAndre Borschberg: "I felt the situation was very difficult and very emotional"

All big projects have their crunch moments, and these pinch points will very often define the people involved.

For the Solar Impulse team it came over the northern Pacific Ocean in mid-summer last year.

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Ariane 6 project 'in good shape'

Artist's impression Image copyright ASL
Image caption Artist's impression: The schedule calls for a maiden flight in 2020

The dream is moving to reality. That was the message from European Space Agency boss, Jan Woerner, on Wednesday as he discussed the Ariane 6 rocket.

The director general was touring the Airbus Safran Launchers facilities at Les Mureaux, France, where much of the future vehicle will be integrated.

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Gravitational waves: Numbers don't do them justice

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Albert Einstein: His genius is made clear yet again

"It's astonishing; it really is." Jim Hough can't stop repeating the phrase.

The veteran gravitational wave hunter from Glasgow University has come to the National Press Club in Washington DC to witness the announcement of the first direct detection of ripples in the fabric of space-time caused by the merger of two "intermediate-sized" black holes.

Read full article Gravitational waves: Numbers don't do them justice

Gravitational waves: A triumph for big science

Image copyright NSF
Image caption Some of the big questions in science now require big machines to answer them

The first direct detection of gravitational waves is without doubt one of the most remarkable breakthroughs of our time. The Advanced LIGO laboratories in the US states of Washington and Louisiana have traced the warping of space from the merger of two black holes about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.

It represents the last great confirmation of Einstein's ideas, and opens the door to a completely new way to investigate the Universe. Astronomy and other fields of science are now entering a new era.

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Europe settles on design for Ariane 6 rocket

Media captionAirbus Safran Launchers' promotional video for the Ariane 6

The design for Europe's new Ariane 6 rocket has been settled and development will now move on apace, say officials.

The launcher is due to be introduced in 2020 and long-term will replace the Ariane 5 and Soyuz vehicles that currently operate out of French Guiana.

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James Webb: Hubble successor maintains course

Cryo-vac test Image copyright NASA/CHRIS GUNN
Image caption Soon to emerge: The instruments were placed in the Goddard vacuum chamber for testing late last year

The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is reaching some key milestones in its preparation for launch in 2018.

Engineers are about to complete the assembly of the primary mirror surface on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Read full article James Webb: Hubble successor maintains course