I went to a symposium on future space launchers sometime in the mid-70’s and listened to Alan Bond talk about a project called HOTOL. It was a new idea for launching people and goods into space in a safer, more reliable and cheaper way. Not long afterwards the U.K. government gave a small amount of money to the project and classified the design of the engines.
Alan Bond is now a director of Reaction Engines Ltd, working on the descendant of HOTOL. It’s called SKYLON and could put the United Kingdom at the forefront of a new space age. Check it out from the link under ‘Other Sites’.
Anyone who thinks space technology isn’t important should consider that GPS systems, weather forecasting, disaster relief and even the best way to plough a field are all dependent on satellites.