University in China spaceflight deal

Sheffield University vice chancellor, Sir Keith Burnett, with Prof Guang Meng, vice-principal of Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology
Sheffield University vice chancellor, Sir Keith Burnett, with Prof Guang Meng, vice-principal of Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology
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Sheffield University has signed a pioneering deal to work on rockets for China’s multi-billion pound space programme.

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology - which has a £46bn budget - will develop parts for commercial rockets.

The academy is a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace and Technology Corporation, which has 20,000 employees and specialises in launching multiple satellites on one rocket.

The collaboration will also result in Chinese students studying PhDs in Sheffield while academic and commercial staff from both countries will receive training in advanced manufacturing.

Prof Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “I am delighted that two world-leading organisations such as SAST and the University of Sheffield’s AMRC with Boeing are collaborating so effectively to find technical solutions to complex aerospace issues.

“This is a priority area for China, as announced by President Xi Jinping, and also one of longstanding expertise at the University of Sheffield. We see tremendous potential for companies and products in both countries.”

John Baragwanath, executive director of the AMRC, added: “The AMRC is delighted to partner SAST on this new collaborative research programme, which will combine expertise in the two centres and lead to improved products and new innovations.”

A signing ceremony took place in Shanghai, where Prof Burnett has been part of a ministerial delegation, led by Jo Johnson, minister for universities, science, research and innovation.

Prof Guang Meng said: “As the AMRC’s first partner in China, I feel confident that our joint research initiatives will lead to significant advances in our human and technical capabilities.”

SAST will work with the AMRC on the technical issues associated with creating strong, thin-walled structures for commercial rockets.