Lord Mandelson has brought some excitement to gadget and technology buffs with his words grounding science fiction at the launch of the UK Space Agency.

Despite science minister Lord Drayson's wishes "to see human beings living on Mars'', the business secretary assured the public that this was not going to be a frivolous spending of public money on pipe dreams in these hard times. He said:

'I think it is important to remember that although it is cutting edge, this stuff is not sci-fi. It may start in space, but it comes down to Earth very quickly and is directly relevant to all our daily lives'.'

Whether this means we'll all be driving lunar buggies across the countryside when the traffic's bad or eating food from silver pouches is another thing, but the odd bit of jetpack access would certainly keep our minds off the recession.

Work at the UK Space Agency will officially start, suspiciously enough, on 1 April and, according to Lord Drayson ''the action we're taking shows that we're really serious about space',' which is fortunate because, the last time we checked, space wasn't joking about itself either.