Current Council Details

The British Interplanetary Society Council consists of 12 Councillors, all of whom are Fellows of at least 3 years standing of the British Interplanetary Society, who are elected by the Fellowship in an open ballot at the AGM. Each BIS Councillor serves a 3 year term, after which they must be re-elected. The President can also take special action at any time to bring others onto Council as and when their specialist expertise will assist Council in pursuing its duties. With a view on continuity, the immediate Past-President is also invited to attend meetings.

President: Alistair Scott
Joining Hawker Siddeley Aviation as an Undergraduate Apprentice at Hatfield in 1967 and gained a BSc (Aero Eng) from Bristol University in 1972. He worked on Trident, Airbus, HS125, and HS146 aircraft before moving up to British Aerospace Dynamics in Stevenage in 1978. In 1984 he moved over to British Aerospace Space Systems as Marketing Manager, Communications Satellites, operating in the Middle East, Far East and Australasia. He became PR Manager for Matra Marconi Space (UK) in 1995 and was appointed Director of Communications (UK) for Astrium on its formation in May 2000. He retired as Adviser(UK), Communications & PR for EADS Astrium, based in Stevenage, UK, November 2011.He joined the Society in 1995, became a Fellow in 2001 and was elected to Council in Sept 2007. He is Chairman of the Events Committee and Media Committee and serves on the Finance and General Purposes Committee . His other interests include the Territorial Army, military vehicles, vintage cars, sailing and cartooning. He is also a Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society.“Living up to its motto, ‘From Imagination to Reality’, the British Interplanetary Society has always been ‘ahead of the game’ in proposing and predicting man’s use and exploration of space. In order to retain this position and maintain the respect of its peers across the world as many other nations join the ‘space race’, I consider it important that the Society is kept fully informed of current and proposed activities both in industry and academia. I believe I can help to maintain this firm base from which the Society can continue to promote the further use and exploration of space.”
Past-President: Dr Robert Charles Parkinson MBEJoined the Society in 1956 and elected to Fellow in 1967.

He served on the Council from 1968 -1971, 1975-1978 and 1982 to 1985. He was BIS President from 2009 – 2012. He gained his doctorate in 1965 from the University of Nottingham. He has worked for the Rocket Propulsion Establishment, PERME, British Aerospace, Matra Marconi and Astrium. He has had papers published in Spaceflight and JBIS. He also worked on the Society’s Project Daedalus and Project Boreas.

He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and was awarded the MBE in the 2002 New Years Honours List.

He would like to encourage the BIS to continue being an advocate for enthusiastic development of future developments in astronautics.


Vice President: Mark Hempsell

Joined the Society in 1971 and elected to Fellow in 1984.He is a Past President (1997-2000) and a past Editor of the Journal. He serves on the Finance and General Purposes Committee, Technical Committee and the Constitution Committee. His career in astronautics started at British Aerospace Space and Communications Division working as a systems engineer on communications satellites and infrastructure systems. In 1991 he joined the University of Bristol and became the Senior Lecturer in Astronautics. In 2008 He joined Reaction Engines as the Future Programmes Director. He is particularly keen to keep the balance between the academic and the popularising roles of the Society to ensure they continue to invigorate each other.


Chris-WelchVice President: Dr Chris Welch

Joined the Society in 1979 and was elected a Fellow in 1984.

Chris is Director of Masters Programs at the International Space University (ISU) in Strasbourg, France. He has BSc in Physics, an MSc in space physics and a PhD in spacecraft engineering. His interests include space propulsion, space exploration and microgravity physics. He is a Chartered Physicist and Member of the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Engineering and Technology  an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

For the BIS, Chris is a member of the Space Education and Outreach Committee and the Events Committee and has organized the annual UK selection for the student competition at International Astronautical Congress for a number of years. He is a subject editor JBIS.

In 1989, Chris was one of the final 25 candidates to fly to the Mir space station on the UK-USSR Juno mission, which continues to fuel his passion for both human spaceflight and space education and outreach. He is a current and former chair of International Astronautical Federation Space and Education and Outreach Committee and is also on the board and Executive Committee of the World Space Week Association, Deputy Chair of the Advisory Council of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies and a member of the Advisory Board of the Space Generation Advisory Council.

As a former chair of UKSEDS, Chris believes that connecting with students and young professionals is vital in order for the Society to grow and develop. In parallel, the Society must continue its work towards achieving a significantly higher profile with the general public to publicise both space and itself and must also link and work with other space-related organisations and groups.


Council Members:

Richard Osborne

Joined the Society in 1983, and elected to Fellow in 1992.He has a Bachelors degree in Physics, a Masters Degree in Remote Sensing (specialising in Martian surface analysis), is a Chartered Physicist, a Chartered Scientist, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and has served on the UK Rocketry Association’s Council for 10 years.

Currently working as a consultant systems architect, as well as with Reaction Engines Limited on the STERN hydrogen fuelled air breathing rocket engine. Richard has also worked on a number of space industry projects ranging from payloads to the Mir space station to Mars missions, specialising more recently in systems engineering in addition to rocket propulsion. Involved in a number of professional and amateur rocketry ventures in the past, as well as potential UK X-Prize contenders which didn’t see the light of day. Also extensively involved with hybrid rocket propulsion systems for the last 15 years.

He is enthusiastic to expand the reach of the Society, and to see a stronger participation from the younger members, to encourage support for potential members in the undergraduate and recent graduate communities and to use technology as an enabler for the Society. He is a very keen advocate of manned spaceflight and launch vehicle technology.

Gerry Webb

Joined the Society in 1958 and elected to Fellow in 1969.Gerry has been the General Director of Commercial Space Technologies Ltd (CST) since its foundation in 1983. Before this he worked for the British Government space research programme, beginning from 1960, at the Radio Research Laboratory (Slough). This laboratory became the Appleton Laboratory and ultimately merged with the Rutherford Laboratory to become (RAL).

Gerry graduated in Physics and completed postgraduate work in Space Science (University College London). All of his working life has been in the space field, beginning with the radio tracking of Sputnik 3 and other early Soviet satellites in order to measure ionospheric parameters. After a ten year period of work between 1968 and 1978 with sounding rockets investigating the Earth’s geomagnetic field from the arctic launch ranges of Andoya and Kiruna he transferred to the management team procuring sounding rockets for the British space research community.

Rod Woodcock

Joined the Society in 1971 and was elected to Fellow in 1984. He also serves on the History committee.Apprenticed in 1960 at AVRO for a Aeronautical engineering apprenticeship. Worked on the AVRO Vulcan, Blue Steel and HS Nimrod, specializing in flying controls and hydraulics. Left in 1968 to start his own company, which he started from nothing and developed it into a successful business before selling it in 2008.

Served as a local borough councillor for 8 years, serving on several committees including budget, finance and town planning.

Interests golf, walking, theatre and looking after his large garden.

Expectations. Having now retired he has the time and dedication to help the Society. He feels living in Cheshire will help balance the spread of council members throughout the country and help forge more interest in membership outside the London area.

He has gained a vast knowledge of every aspect of business having been on numerous training courses over the years which he hopes will help in the Society forge a new secure future.

Nick SpallNick Spall

Born in 1953 Nick joined the Society in 1999 and was elected to Fellow in 2006. His work includes his activity as a freelance writer focusing on astronautics, aviation and the space sciences. He has written for Spaceflight, Aerospace International and Air International magazines, as well as the BBC’s Focus science magazine, the Times Eureka website and the Guardian Unlimited science pages, plus the JBIS and the influential Space Policy Journal. Nick has given public lectures and broadcasted as a commentator on human spaceflight for BBC TV News and Russia Today TV, BBC Radio 4, the World Service and BBC Radio 5 Live.He has travelled in the USA and Russia and interviewed both engineers and astronaut/cosmonauts of NASA, Roscosmos and ESA, together with private space participants. He has taken part in two zero-g experiment parabola flight campaigns on the “ZERO-G” A-300 aircraft flying from Bordeaux with ESA. This interest in microgravity research is being followed-up via his involvement with the UK space-biomedicine initiative group (UCL/KCL etc).

Nick has been an active member of the BIS for many years, member of the Events Committee and is currently leading the Society’s UK human spaceflight campaign coordination – this has involved extensive media PR work, plus planning the BIS UK-born silver-pin badge award events covering H. Sharman, R. Garriott and P. Sellers, with M. Foale and N. Patrick to come.

The lobbying work for the HSF campaign includes on-going discussions with UKSA, plus Ministers and Parliamentary Space Group MP’s. This work should push forward the role of the BIS as the premier UK-based Society covering space matters generally and help expand the UK’s involvement in all aspects of space exploration and research.

Doug Millard

Doug gained his BSc in Environmental Sciences at the University of Warwick in 1981 and his PGCE in secondary science teaching at the University of Bath in 1983.He joined the Science Museum’s Education Department in 1985 to curate the Children’s Gallery, work on the school and public lectures and run the film programme. Over the next few years he worked with the Industrial Chemistry, Plastics, Gas and Space Technology Collections before going on to manage the Museum’s main store in West London. In 1993 he was seconded to the Science Museum’s IT section to coordinate the procurement of a new computer infrastructure for the Museum and its sister museums at York (Railway) and Bradford (Film, Photography and Television). He returned to curatorial work in 1994 to run the Space Technology Collection and in 2003 became Senior Curator of ICT and Space Technology. In 2006 he gained his MSc in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of London. Doug has worked on many space exhibitions and displays and his publications include a history of the Black Arrow satellite launch vehicle and its engines. He has appeared regularly on TV and radio. He is currently working on a major new permanent gallery on the history of communications and writing a book on the history of the satellite.

Keith Wright

Joined the Society in 1955 and was elected to Fellow in 1971.Following university, where he studied Physics and Maths, he was employed by De Havilland Propellers (later Hawker Siddeley Dynamics) as a trials engineer working on Blue Streak/Europa 1 from 1961 to 1966. He  then moved to the USA where he worked for the Bendix Aerospace Systems Division as a systems engineer responsible for planning and executing the pre-launch operations for the Apollo Lunar Science Experiments Package, subsequently participating as a member of the Apollo launch team at Kennedy Space Center from 1968 to 1972. In 1972 he returned to the United Kingdom where he re-joined Hawker Siddeley Dynamics as a Senior Quality engineer working principally as Quality and Safety Assurance Manager on the ESRO Orbital Test Satellite. In 1975 he was recruited by the European Space Agency at ESTEC as Safety Assurance engineer on the Spacelab project which was carried in the payload bay of the NASA Space Shuttle. On the establishment of the ESA Product Assurance and Safety Department at ESTEC, he was appointed Head of the Safety Section where he was responsible for system safety engineering and assurance and for establishing the ESA Safety policy and requirements for human spaceflight. He subsequently supported the study phases of ESA’s contribution to the International Space Station (Columbus), Ariane 5, and Hermes. He retired from ESA in 1994 and was elected a corresponding member of the IAA in 1997.

In supporting the Society, he is responsible for the Society’s Headquarters Health and Safety Risk Assessment and for the preparation of the Society’s new strategic plan. He is also a member of the Publications Committee and performs JBIS paper reviews in his field of expertise. He is particularly interested in helping to establish a local BIS meeting group in the West Country (he lives in Dorset) and in supporting BIS technical studies. He promotes the Society and space flight by giving talks and writing articles. He also tries to encourage an interest in science in young people through talks in schools about space and spaceflight.


Colin Philp

Colin is a professional photographer specialising in landscape and architecture, working internationally. He established his business in 1993. Since 1999 he has also worked in an educational role as a business adviser with the Young Enterprise organisation, helping 6th form students set up businesses.

Colin has been a space enthusiast from an early age, from the time of Apollo 8, his imagination captured by the moon landings. He joined the Society in 1983 and was elected a Fellow in 1987. Colin is chair of the BIS Marketing Committee, serves on the Society’s Event and Library Committees and is a corresponding member of the Media Committee.

Executive Secretary: Suszann Parry

Joined the Society in 1986 to assist in the preparation of the 1987 International Astronautical Congress. Suszann continued as the Production Editor of JBIS and then promoted to Deputy Executive Secretary in 1993 and Executive Secretary in 2002.

The BIS Council meets at least six times a year, sometimes more often and especially whenever major events require broad discussion and approval.

Senior Officers

The term of office for the President lasts 3 years and is elected from amongst existing members of Council at the last Council meeting prior to the AGM. Succession occurs immediately on the closure of the appropriate AGM. In the case of the President, to ensure smooth continuity, the election is effectively held 12 months ahead of the time of succession, the successful candidate becoming ‘President-Elect’ for the year before holding office. The President-Elect can, like the President, sit in on any Committee meeting.

The term of office for both Vice-Presidents is 1 year and they are elected from amongst existing members of Council at the meeting after the AGM. There is no limit to the number of terms any one person can serve as Vice-President. The outgoing President must wait 3 years before he can be nominated for Presidency again.

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