Sep 26, 2017

How Boeing will grow the new Australian space age

A reminder from Boeing Australia that it is the best connected and most powerful entity the Australian Space Agency will work with

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, the natural competitor to the SpaceX Dragon

Boeing has used the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide to launch new Australian-based space industry initiatives, a day after the Turnbull Government announced that it would announce next March details about a forthcoming Australian Space Agency.

It said Boeing Australia’s first major space research and development initiative on display at IAC 2017 is a virtual reality solution developed by its defence and science team in Brisbane that provides a high-resolution, interactive, real-time simulation for its CST-100 Starliner capsule.

It’s Boeing’s first virtual reality (VR) system developed by employees outside the United States.

Supplementing Boeing’s physical Starliner simulator, the VR technology is a low-cost training alternative for astronauts to familiarise themselves with operating the Starliner and perform training procedures including how to dock with the International Space Station.

Boeing has signed an agreement with Australian space VR supplier, Opaque Space, a small enterprise in Melbourne. Opaque Space will collaborate with Boeing’s Brisbane team on future virtual reality space training scenarios for the Starliner.

The US aerospace company’s main space related activities in Australia involve defence services.

The Australian Defence Force currently has Boeing-built satellite communications supporting its operations. Australia became the first international participant in the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force in 2007.  WGS provides flexible, high-capacity and resilient communications capabilities. The Ultra High Frequency hosted payload on the Intelsat 22 satellite delivers critical connectivity to Australian forces.

Other Australian-developed space technologies include a weather server that can analyse locations on the surface of the earth and objects in space, an application to connect teams during live test events such as space launches, and spacecraft cabin anti-microbial polymer research.

While delegates to IAC17 ponder just what the Australian Space Agency will look like, once yesterday’s announcement of its pending announcement gets real, the size and scope of Boeing’s established space related activities in this country have made it the most powerful and best connected entity that it will need to work with.


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2 thoughts on “How Boeing will grow the new Australian space age

  1. Dan Dair

    It’s a bit rich of Boeing to be telling Australia it is the best company for Australia to be involved with,
    just at the time that Boeing aircraft has successfully persuaded the US government to place a 220% tariff on sales of the Bombardier C-series.

    Boeing seem to be arguing that the substantial amounts of money put in by Canada’s government was a gift,
    as opposed to a loan or effectively a ‘rights-issue’, which will presumably require a future repayment or future dividend payments.?

    It must be especially galling for Bombardier, as the C-series is a new entrant into the ‘large-feederliner’ sector, which Boeing doesn’t even have a competitor aircraft to lose sales from.
    Embaraer & Airbus have aircraft & the Russian & Japanese are potentially players, if they can get themselves together, but Boeing are not involved in that market-sector at all anymore.?

    1. Ben Sandilands

      I would mostly agree with these points. However there are 90 years of carefully fostered involvement by Boeing in the Australian defence and civil sectors, and is those activities that have made it into the power it is in this country. At the same time, its competitors have gained in strength in this market. There is simply no feedback mechanism at work here between events involving Bombardier, and the activities, most defence related, of Boeing Australia.

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