Lockheed Martin joins Australia's space race

Lockheed Martin Australia Pty Ltd

Tuesday, 10 October, 2017

Global technology company Lockheed Martin is partnering with the University of Sydney and RMIT University to develop advanced technologies that will have significant implications for both defence and commercial space-based applications.

Speaking at the 68th International Astronautical Congress — the event which saw the federal government announce its plans to establish Australia’s very own space agency — Lockheed Martin representative Rod Drury reaffirmed the company’s commitment to partnering with Australia’s research and industry communities.

“Lockheed Martin has a strong track record of partnering with Australian industry and universities on space-based technology research and development programs,” said Drury, who is MD – Australia for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

“Australia’s participation in the development of advanced technologies that will support the utilisation, monitoring and exploration of space provides opportunities for innovation, local skilled jobs and growth across our space industry, and clearly demonstrates Australia’s world-class R&D capabilities in this area.”

Together with the University of Sydney, Lockheed Martin will focus on developing photonic-based filters for microwave radio frequency (RF) signal processing. According to Professor Benjamin Eggleton, project lead and director of the university’s ARC Centre for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS), the use of light to carry RF signals through fibre-optic components enables RF filters which are significantly smaller, more efficient and more agile than traditional RF processors, thus allowing data received from transmitters (including satellites) to be manipulated faster and in more ways.

“The photonic RF filter R&D project started out as a fundamental research program, and to see this research capture the attention of a global innovation leader such as Lockheed Martin is a testament to both the standard of research being conducted at CUDOS and the potential processing capability of the optical domain,” Professor Eggleton said.

Lockheed Martin is also partnering with RMIT University to investigate new materials and processing routes for metallic additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing. According to Professor Milan Brandt, project lead and technical director of the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct (AMP) at RMIT, advances in metallic additive manufacturing processes and materials, particularly for high-strength lightweight alloys, will have significant implications for aerospace applications.

“This fundamental research may lead to improved metallic additive manufacturing processes and materials, reducing costs without sacrificing quality — making it feasible to manufacture high-strength, lightweight aerospace components anywhere and at any time, even in space,” Professor Brandt said.

The two research projects are the first to result from the Meet the Technologist symposium, hosted by Lockheed Martin and the Defence Science Institute (DSI) in December 2016. The aim of the symposium was to explore potential collaborations in new and emerging areas of technological innovation.

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