Space is a national priority for both the UK and China, with large-scale government investment resulting in phenomenal technological advancements; China is now only one of three countries to have independently sent humans into space. The UK and China’s partnership in the area of Space was formalised in 2005 when Lord Sainsbury (then UK Minister for Science and Innovation) and Dr Sun Laiyan (then Administrator for the Chinese National Space Administration) signed a Memorandum of Understanding as part of the Science Initiative with China programme. Since then, scientists, industrialists, engineers and policy makers have come together from both countries across a broad spectrum of space related topics that include Astronomy, Solar Physics, Planetary Physics, Earth Observation and Climate Change.
This has also lead to regular bi-lateral exchanges of staff and students from the UK Space Agency and the Chinese National Space Administration. Importantly, this relationship culminated in 2007 with the establishment of the UK- China Virtual Joint Space Laboratory by RAL and Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics (BUAA). The UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) Space Department, RAL Space, is one of the UK’s closest collaborators with China’s national space programme. Since 2005, RAL has led the formation of annual UK-China workshops which, since their inception, have brought together over 2000 space scientists, technologists and industrialists from more than 90 organisations.
To date, we have held 11 annual joint space workshops which have resulted in six training courses, an international research programme based on the use of space to aid agriculture and 12 joint research projects: two of which are currently ongoing. The ongoing research projects include the Atom Interferometer project (RMB 88m – about £8.8m) and the Atom Magnetometer (RMB 20m – about £2m).
The joint laboratory facilitates collaborations between the two countries, focusing on providing universities and companies (including those beyond BUAA and RAL) and giving access to expertise and logistical support for future collaboration research projects. The purpose of setting up this associated research laboratory is to reinforce collaboration in the field of space science and technology between China and UK, to establish long-term personnel exchange mechanisms and platforms, and to explore novel cooperative agreements in this field between the two nations.
For more information please contact, RAL Space Enquiries