A Spanner in the Works

IdeaSpies Edition - What's New & Exciting in the Space Industry with Michael Sharpe, Industrial Editor of IdeaSpies

February 17, 2022 Andreas Spanner Season 1 Episode 24
A Spanner in the Works
IdeaSpies Edition - What's New & Exciting in the Space Industry with Michael Sharpe, Industrial Editor of IdeaSpies
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the 2nd episode of the IdeaSpies Editor Series in partnership with the A Spanner in the Works Disruption Podcast. I'm Lynn Wood, the Founder and Chief Idea Spy of IdeaSpies.

Michael Sharpe, Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre  (AMGC) and Industrial Editor of IdeaSpies will give you a passionate update on what's new and exciting in advanced manufacturing, especially in the space industry.

You can see Industrial ideas, explained simply, on the IdeaSpies platform https://ideaspies.com/sort/Industrial

The National Space Industry Hub was launched last week and there were over 100 people at that event, which shows that there's great interest in the Australian space industry. And just last year the Australian Space Agency was launched. 

We're starting to see tremendous growth across the whole manufacturing sector in Australia and more opportunities in the space industry. So I thought I might touch on a few of those. And of course, we've already published a lot of ideas on space which people can find on the IdeaSpies platform. The national space industry is accelerating space companies to get involved with global collaborative missions, like the NASA Moon to Mars mission, which is pretty exciting because Australia is now a signatory to that mission. And we have quite a range of Australian manufacturers getting on board and getting involved now with space including a lot of firms that traditionally were not involved with the space industry whatsoever. 

So that's exciting to see quite a few companies making the transition and diversifying their manufacturing firms. The NASA Moon to Mars mission plans to have launch pads on the surface of the moon to get people from there to Mars, planned to be in the 2030s, which isn't that far away. 

Some of the projects include Australian technology for mining. Because if we're going to build launch pads on the moon, we need to be able to manufacture concrete to build those launch pads. The technology that's happening right here in Sydney is evolving quickly, ready to be launched to the surface of the moon to be able to build this vital infrastructure. 

So no doubt space is exciting. And we've come such a long way. But now with the agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS), we've seen a lot more acceleration in the last few months. More and more companies are getting involved and looking at the space industry for growth of their manufacturing companies. 

One of them I wanted to talk about is Hacko Watches. It is a small family firm which is the only manufacturer of watches in Australia. They make fabulous timepieces. During COVID the company has actually grown with additional engineers because of their transition to the space industry. Not only do they now make the same fabulous timepieces, but they're collaborating with space companies to use their specific engineering equipment and their engineering knowledge to make intricate little parts for space satellites and other technology. 

The Hacko example shows how Australian companies and engineering know-how can transition to space which we call the new frontier. It's an opportunity for growth for a whole range of manufacturers. One of the ideas that people might like to look up is the Australian Moon Mission, which is explained simply on the IdeaSpies platform. Just go to the search bar and put in Australian Moon Mission. You'll can also see the NASA Moon to Mars mission. 

Another AMGC project is with a company in Brisbane called Black Sky Aerospace who are working with us to develop solid rocket fuel. That's important because it produces less gases and it's less volatile for rocket launches. Right now in Australia there are several sites being developed for launch facilities to get into space which is a natural progression. I'm really glad to see that it is finally now progressing. Launch facilities in Australia are becoming a reality. And with that we need Australian manufacturers to look at all related technologies from rocket fuel to fuel storage. On the IdeaSpies platform you can search Go for Launch, and that'll tell you more about the Black Sky Aerospace program, which is pretty cool.

I also wanted to touch on a company called Omni Tanker who are based in Western Sydney. They worked with AMGC and me to develop new chemical road tankers.  They are semi-trailers carrying chlorine and other chemicals like that on our highways. The company wanted to expand into the United States and to do that they needed support to open up new opportunities in the US as well as support to boost their manufacturing in Western Sydney. That program went so well that that company has now progressed into the space industry. And I'll touch on a bit of that. To get Omni Tanker into the United States, they've partnered with the largest trailer manufacturer in the US. And we were very fortunate to have Australia's ambassador to the United States, Hon Arthur Sinodinus AO, launch that project for us last year.I t’s been highly successful. It received  a lot of media attention, which turned into a lot of orders for these chemical road tankers built here in Sydney and transported to the US. So I'm sure we're going to see a lot of growth from that manufacturing company.  It's a lightweight chemical road tanker, which is normally built in stainless steel. Omni Tanker have been able to make it out of composite materials. So it's a much lighter tank, but much stronger,. Being lighter means that they can carry more. It's a big breakthrough and a world's first right here in Australia. 

That project drew the attention to some players in the space industry, who were looking for safe storage of hydrogen, again for rocket launchers. And so now Omni Tanker is onto their second project with us here at the AMGC, in partnership with Lockheed Martin in the US. Lockheed Martin are looking to use this lightweight composite technology for hydrogen storage on their rockets and other projects that will come to the fore. This has just started and it will develop over the next 18 months. So watch this space! 

These opportunities also cross over into defence. Right now we have the largest defence budget in Australia's history. So we know there's a great opportunity for Australian manufacturers to look at defence in space to see how they can look for opportunities for growth. It's no doubt going to build sovereign capabilities for Australia, which is a great thing. I see great strengths and growth over the coming years as a result of the AUKUS alliance.. I've no doubt for the coming decades we'll see opportunities only grow through that new partnership. 

In February last year, I launched the Nuclear Skills Forum. At the time that helped several Australian manufacturers looking at opportunities in nuclear energy and other products around the nuclear industry. Little did we know then that six months later the AUKUS agreement would be announced, and since then, over the last few months, it's only accelerated again. We've had talks with Rolls Royce in the United Kingdom about their small modular reactors. And we've had talks with a company called New Scale Power in the United States, again around nuclear energy. And this is just the start of Australian companies getting involved in the nuclear industry. The talk with Rolls Royce was fabulous and led to new nuclear technologies. In space. Rolls Royce are working on several projects for energy on the moon as part of the NASA Moon to Mars mission. And so again, you can see how this comes complete circle where Australian manufacturers can use their technologies and look at ways of growing their company, putting their ideas into action. It's all well and good to have a good idea and publish it on the IdeaSpies platform but how can we help these great ideas, get out into the world and and help our companies to grow? We need to share the ideas from IdeaSpies so more people know about them and support them.

There are so many opportunities on IdeaSpies that we need to share. we’re certainly seeing more and more of them come to the fore. The last company I wanted to talk about is a company called Sperospace. That's one of our latest projects at AGMC. They're developing technology that captures images from their satellites circling the globe. That imagery is then processed onboard the satellite and transmitted back to Earth. This technology is used by our farmers in improving our agriculture and in defence of course. Other industries I'm sure will appreciate the sort of imagery that can be compiled and quickly transmitted back to Earth. It's a real game changer being produced by an Australian company and branching out to international opportunities. So I look forward to posting that new project onto IdeaSpies very shortly and sharing that with all of you in our community. 

Manufacturing in Australia is growing. Approximately 1.3 million Australians are currently involved. There are 47,000 manufacturing companies right across the nation -everything from food production, right through to the space industry, and everything in between. 

We're going to see many more opportunities coming through, not just for defence in space, but food and agriculture and mining technologies that Australia leads the world in currently, but can be used for so much more future work. Think about the mining that I talked about on the surface of the moon. Machinery is being developed here for mining of the lunar surface. It’s being developed in conjunction with technology that was developed for the Western Australian mining landscape. So it includes remote vehicle controls etc. Think about food. Higher grade proteins that can be used in space travel and exploration are currently being developed here in Australia by some of our greatest minds and some of our greatest researchers. I think we're blessed as a country to have some of the greatest research minds in the world right here in in Australia. The projects that we do at AMGC are naturally collaborative projects, which involve the universities all across the nation. It's always a pleasure to bring some of those professors out of the university and get them onto the factory floor and meet our members. They can see the technologies being developed and talk about how they might be able to add value. 

One of the latest things we're doing is that I have a whole range of manufacturers joining me in Wollongong next week to look at the latest in robotics, welding technology. The ability for robotics technology to do welding will be great for our submarines as we move forward. We're already seeing that technology in development of the Australian Bushmaster vehicles and and other products. Australian companies are already leading the field in so many ways with technology. But as I said earlier, we're also implementing that technology and bringing those ideas into action. 

It's a great opportunity to be here Lynn and I'm glad that IdeaSpies continues to grow. I certainly encourage everyone out there to look at the platform and search by  key word for whatever you might be looking for. Those ideas will then come up in the search function. And you can go through just some of the ideas that I've touched on today. There are  more and more going up each and every day. So thanks Lynn, good to see everyone here today and looking forward to talk to you more