The governments of Japan and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement for greater collaboration on space exploration and technology.
The agreement was signed by UK space minister David Willetts and the Japanese Economy Minister Motohisa Furukawa. The timing of the announcement coincides with a visit to Japan by the United Kingdom's Prime Minister, David Cameron.
The UK, which has its own space agency and which is a member of the European Space Agency, has been working with Japan on a number of missions already, including the NovaSAR programme and the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) run by UK based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, a subsidiary of global space company Astrium. In partnership with the UK Space Agency, DMC provided vital data to assist with rescue efforts and damage assessment in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
David Willetts said:
“The UK space industry is a true success story, employing tens of thousands of highly skilled people and contributing around £7.5 billion to economy annually. However space is a global market and the UK’s success is dependent on international collaboration, so it’s vital we forge strong partnerships with countries like Japan that lead the way in technology.”
Current projects involving the UK and Japan include the solar mission Hinode which carries a sicence instrument from the UK.
The UK hopes to grow its space activities and achieve a 10% share of the global space market by 2030.