Tuesday, September 27, 2016

News: AMRC to boost research for China's space programme

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The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) have signed an agreement to launch a new joint research institute.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and a partner in the HVM Catapult (the Government's strategic initiative that aims to revitalise the manufacturing industry), the AMRC focuses on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It is a partnership between industry and academia, which has become a model for research centres worldwide.

SAST has conducted extensive research, design and manufacturing for many parts of China's launch rockets and also specialises in space satellites and tactical missiles.

Having singed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) creating its first partnership in China, the AMRC will work with SAST to develop strong thin-walled structures for commercial rockets.

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SAST, which has an annual budget of $60 billion, is a subsidiary of the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation (CASC), a state-owned enterprise and the main contractor for the Chinese space program. CASC provides commercial launch services to the Tiangong 3 Space Station, scheduled for launch in 2020.

CASC also provides commercial launch services to the international market and with 20,000 employees in Shanghai, is one of the world's most advanced organisations in the development and deployment of high energy propellant technology, strap-on boosters, and launching multiple satellites atop a single rocket.

SAST is working with the AMRC on the technical issues associated with creating strong thin-walled structures for commercial rockets. They will fund mobility for academic and commercial staff to receive training in advanced manufacturing techniques and send China Scholarship Council (CSC) students to study for their PhDs in the Sheffield city region.


Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, was in Shanghai on a ministerial visit. He said: "I am delighted that two world-leading organisations such as SAST and the University of Sheffield's AMRC 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."

Last year, the AMRC unveiled a new corporate structure with ambitions for further growth at home and abroad, targeting a more than doubling of its turnover to in excess of £80m over the next five years.

AMRC website

Images: SAST / University of Sheffield


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