I hope you have all enjoyed a wonderful festive season and are preparing for the New Year ahead.
It will be a difficult time while we acclimatise to new and uncertain circumstances outside of Europe where the poorest in our society will undoubtedly suffer more than most. However, as people with a vision for a unified space faring humanity, we should remain confident that a broader, more responsive, and inclusive engagement with our world and the space beyond it must still be our firm desire.
2018 saw some extraordinary off world achievements in our Solar system. The Japanese landed the Hayabusa-2 rovers on an asteroid 174M miles away sending back breathtaking HD video from the surface as it hurtled through space. The US Parker Probe launched this year will fly within 4M miles of the surface of the Sun, while in the same neighbourhood on a mission to Mercury, the European Satellite BepiColombo set off on its journey to make a comprehensive survey of the planet too. Most recently the Mars Insight Lander touched down at Elysium Planitia on Mars and will soon commence sub surface drilling to learn more about what lies beneath the Red planet.
In deep space events Voyager 2 finally left our Solar system on its journey into interstellar space now some 11Bn miles from Earth after its launch in 1977, 2Bn behind Voyager 1. The search for habitable worlds continued in earnest this year despite the retirement of the Kepler Space Telescope which discovered over 2,600 extra-Solar planets and has now been replaced by TESS. Close to home SpaceX successfully launched its next rocket vehicle the falcon heavy, which iconically placed the Starman & Tesla Roadster test mass into a Solar orbit beyond Mars. Meanwhile Virgin also managed to test it's edge of atmosphere parabolic flight vehicle successfully.
These highlights are just a few of the exciting developments this year, with much more to look forward to in 2019. In the UK, Sutherland in Scotland was selected for a small vertical launch site, while the development of long term and established Spaceports continues at Newquay and Prestwick with domestic Space Companies like Orbital Access leading the way for sustained renewable horizontal spaceflight.
Asgardian efforts to support and sustain Space development in our economy will continue on apace, but from my family to yours, I wish you all a very celebratory New Year's Evening.
Mayor for London