James Ball’s love of space is matched only by his love of the UK, so you can imagine his joy at combining the two. Now, if you find yourself thinking those two things can’t possibly go together, Ball is more than happy to prove you wrong with his ongoing photo series Britain in Space.
The US and Russia may get all the glory, but Britain is no slouch at space—something Ball has made something of a personal mission to document. The project, which he started in 2012, takes you into the country’s aerospace laboratories, satellite companies, and museums to reveal a thriving industry he’s quite proud of. “I’m absolutely driven to make a series of work that talks about how strong and plucky we are as a space industry,” says the photographer, who goes by the pseudonym Docubyte.
Plucky, but small. Britain started developing satellites in the 1960s, but always relied upon NASA and the European Space Agency to launch them. The first Briton in space, chemist Helen Sharman, hitched a ride to the Mir space station aboard the Soviet Soyuz TM-12 in 1991. The government created the United Kingdom Space Agency not quite seven years ago to bolster its efforts in space and create jobs. Today, Britain enjoys a $17-billion industry that includes satellite companies and commercial space programs.
Ball grew up watching space shuttle launches on television, his excitement tempered by a twinge of jealousy. “You were very aware that it wasn’t happening in your country,” he says. He knew the UK had a space program, and finally got a chance to see it up close when he met James Macfarlane, the managing director of the rocket testing company Airborne Engineering. Macfarlane invited him to watch a rocket launch. “Being a massive nerd, I couldn’t resist,” Ball says.
Read more at Wired.