Boeing and CSIRO announce their largest research partnership

Boeing and CSIRO have announced 20 new joint space technology research projects for 2019 – the largest research portfolio in the history of their research and development relationship.

The projects form part of the current AU$35 million five-year agreement and signal a new direction toward the joint development of space-related technologies.

The new agreement includes four new joint space technology research projects:

  • Space situational awareness for commercial and civil purposes such as monitoring space debris
  • on-board image processing and analytics for Earth observation satellites
  • lightweight, radiation shielding materials for spaceflight
  • on-orbit manufacturing of space structures or satellite components.

The latest projects expand the scope of joint research to five of CSIRO’s domain areas of expertise: advanced manufacturing, data analytics, energy, future insight consulting services, and space technology.

For Boeing, these projects involve teams throughout the company, including space, R&D and Boeing HorizonX.

Boeing HorizonX is a pathfinder organisation that accelerates innovation and explores what’s possible outside of Boeing’s traditional market offerings.

The new projects were announced today at the Avalon International Airshow in Victoria, where the two organisations are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their partnership.

“Boeing and CSIRO have a wealth of space technology expertise, and our collaboration stands to propel Australia’s space industry forward,” Boeing chief technology officer Dr Greg Hyslop said.

“Boeing’s extensive experience in space dates back to the beginnings of NASA’s crewed space program and the start of satellite-based communications systems, and CSIRO has a 75-year history in developing space technologies.”

CSIRO’s chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said the record number of joint projects reflected the strength of the relationship between Australia’s national science agency and Boeing.

“Extending our partnership with Boeing into space technology will fuel new discoveries for us while also driving towards Australia’s target of 20,000 jobs in the local space industry by 2030,” Marshall said.

“Partnering with a global leader like Boeing is critical for CSIRO to deliver on our purpose – solving the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology.

“Whether it’s new materials to withstand incredible forces, 3D-printed rocket fuel, or artificial intelligence to guide our way through intractable problems, CSIRO is using science to create innovative industries for Australia.”

Boeing and CSIRO have made numerous innovative breakthroughs since forming their partnership in 1989.

These include CSIRO’s “Paintbond” technology, which has been applied to more than a thousand Boeing aeroplanes around the world, saving millions of dollars in maintenance costs.

In 2018, both CSIRO’s investment fund, managed by Main Sequence Ventures, and Boeing HorizonX Ventures, the company’s venture capital fund, announced investments in Australian nanosatellite communications start-up Myriota.

Boeing has named CSIRO as a supplier of the year three times, including the past two consecutive years.