York forges links with Chinese space officials

York had a wonderful opportunity recently to strut its space research when eight Chinese space research officials came to York University last week. The officials were seeking a collaborative venture in the Canadian space program.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has had previous collaborative missions with the USA, Japan, Sweden, Russia, France, Finland and the European Space Agency, but not yet with China. The CSA would welcome a mission, and did sign a memorandum of understanding with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) in Beijing on Feb. 12, 2001. The CNSA made a return visit to the CSA headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec on Oct. 16, but still no specific mission has been identified.

To pursue this possibility more directly, Professor Enjie Luan, president of the CNSA, and his delegation of eight agency personnel visited the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science (CRESS) at York University on Oct. 18 to evaluate CRESS space science activities as a basis for a joint mission with Canada.

At a lunch in their honour, Professor Gary Jarvis welcomed the officials on behalf of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science, and Professor Anthony Szeto described the Graduate Program in Earth and Space Science. Chris Buhagiar from the Office of Research and Innovation spoke of the scope of York’s activities in these areas and Roopa Desai Trilokekar of York International described our international connections.

During the afternoon scientific session, CRESS members described their WINDII and OSIRIS experiments currently in orbit, and their plans for future missions, including SWIFT, WATEX and MIMI. The latter two instruments offer excellent scope for future collaborative missions described by our visitors, and an educational exchange involving space engineering at York is also attractive to them.

An important aspect for CRESS is that Canada does not have its own satellite launch capability and must collaborate with other countries to get instruments into orbit; China has a wide variety of launch vehicles.