UK and China space sectors join together

10 December 2018

Leading figures from UK and Chinese space research and industry are coming together this week at a conference in China to strengthen their growing relationship and look at new opportunities to work together benefiting both national space industries.

The UK space industry has a long history of working with Chinese counterparts. A UK-China Joint Laboratory was established to foster this in 2005, led by a partnership between the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space in the UK and Beihang University in China.

Since 2005 the partnership has brought together over 2000 space scientists, technologists and industrialists from more than 90 organisations. The result has been 12 joint research projects and an international research programme based on the use of space technology to help the agricultural sector as well as improved cultural, scientific and business understanding.

Now, 54 UK and 77 Chinese delegates from space academic and industry will be meeting to discuss how to deepen the collaboration between the two nations, and pave the way for future innovation.

Dr Hugh Mortimer, co-chairman of the conference and research scientist at STFC’s RAL Space said, “By bringing together the best scientist and engineers from the UK with those in China, we are able to unlock the potential for space to provide real benefits to us here on Earth. Over the last 13 years we have been involved in, funded and facilitated some incredible projects that have seen technology designed for space be used to help farmers, through to designing satellites to study our nearest star, the Sun. These projects have only been possible because of the Joint Laboratory between RAL Space and Beihang University which links together projects and priorities to benefit both countries.”

Leading figures from the UK and China space sectors will be meeting at the UK China Space Conference in Ningbo, China, on the 10th December, run by the Joint Laboratory. This conference takes in a much wide range of topics, from technical talks on emerging technologies, to practical advice on export controls for both UK and Chinese companies.

Professor Chris Mutlow, Director of STFC RAL Space said: “We have been working with partners in China for decades and have built very strong collaborative relationships. As part of UK Research and Innovation, the body set up to support researchers and businesses, RAL Space is a neutral broker, positioned between industry and academia. This puts us in the perfect position to support the ambitions of both in China.”

Examples of this brokerage role are the projects supported by UK Research and Innovation’s £27 million Newton Fund to use technology from the space sector to help agricultural practices in China. This has seen UK and Chinese organisations working together to use the latest space applications, from modified Mars rovers to soil moisture monitoring from space, to solve some of the challenges facing a country which has only 7% of the world’s arable land and water resources but has to feed 22% of the world’s population.

More information is available on the RAL Space website.

Last updated: 11 December 2018

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