Boeing, CSIRO announce new space partnership

Boeing corporate logo. (Boeing)

Scientists from Boeing and Australia’s peak science research agency CSIRO will work together on space projects as part of a new partnership between the two long-time collaborators.

The new initiative will feature joint research and development on space technologies with a focus on the developing needs of the Australian space market, Boeing said in a statement on Monday.

“The joint research will explore opportunities for space infrastructure and ground-based space facilities in Australia that could be beneficial for a range of space-related activities,” Boeing said.

“Other possible areas of space-related research include the development of novel materials, sensors and software for data analytics.”

The announcement was officially made at Boeing’s El Segundo, California, facility, which makes satellites.

It comes as the Australian government in late September outlined a commitment to set up a national space agency.

Currently, Australia is one of the few developed nations without a national space agency, a source of some lament for many years among those who work in the sector.

The topic of a national space agency was currently being by the federal government’s Expert Reference Group chaired by former CSIRO chief Dr Megan Clark, with 200 submissions received in response to an issues paper released in 2017.

The reference group was expected to develop a charter and advise on the possible structure and scope for Australia’s national space agency by the end of March 2018.

A Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) White Paper published in March 2017 found the Australian space sector represented about 0.8 per cent of the global space economy, generating annual revenues of $3-4 billion and employing between 9,500-11,500 people.

Further, the small satellite market, which includes cubesats and nanosatellites, was estimated to be growing at about 20 per cent a year.

This latest partnership between Boeing and CSIRO is the latest chapter in a relationship that started in 1989, when the pair began working together. In 2017, CSIRO was named a Boeing Supplier of the Year for a second time.

“Boeing has worked with nations and companies around the world to explore the wonders of space since the very beginning of the space age,” Boeing Space and Missile Systems senior vice president Jim Chilton said in a statement.

“Now with Australia on the cusp of its own exciting space age, Boeing couldn’t have a better Australian R&D partner than CSIRO to work with on emerging space technologies.”

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said his organisation had a 75-year history of working in space.

“While our scientists have achieved significant breakthroughs, there is still so much to know,” Marshall said.

“Extending our relationship with Boeing into the realm of ‘new space’ will help Australia and the world expand horizons, as well as monitor and better manage our own planet.”

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