The space sector has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.52 per cent for nearing two decades, more than three times the annual growth rate of world GDP in the same period. And the upsides are huge.
Join managing director Australia and New Zealand at Lockheed Martin Space Rod Drury as he details his view on the future of the Australian space industry, how Lockheed Martin sees its role in building our sovereign space capabilities and the challenges ahead to realise Australia’s future in space.
Enjoy the podcast,
The Defence Team.
Listen to previous episodes of the Defence Connect podcast:
Episode 86: PODCAST: Australian defence as a global player, Karen Stanton, HTA Group
Episode 85: PODCAST: Development within the underwater battlespace, Capt Tim Green RN
Episode 84: PODCAST: CIVSEC 2018 – A focus on future threats
Episode 83: PODCAST: Developing the roadmap for defence industry’s growth, Dr Sheridan Kearnan, Department of Defence
Episode 82: PODCAST: Traversing the breach between innovation and violation, Tony Bannister-Tyrrell, Coras Solutions
Episode 81: PODCAST: Showcasing amazing people doing incredible things – Patrick Kidd, CEO, Invictus Games Sydney
Episode 80: PODCAST: Eye in the sky, Keirin Joyce, LTCOL – SO1 UAS, Army UAS (Drone) Sub-Program Manager
Episode 79: PODCAST: Equipping Australia’s fighting force, Graham Evenden, director integrated weapons and sensors, Thales Australia
Episode 78: PODCAST: De-risking the Type 26 vessel, Nigel Stewart, SEA 5000 managing director, BAE Systems
Episode 77: PODCAST: Driving Australia’s defence industry at home and abroad, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Defence Industry
Announcer: Welcome to the Defence Connect Podcast, with your host, Phil Tarrant.
Phil Tarrant: Well good day everyone, it's Phil Tarrant here, I'm the host of the Defence Connect Podcast, thanks for joining us today. We're going to step into a bit of a new realm for Defence Connect. We've been covering it off and on for about the last six months or so and it's becoming a growing part of the focus of DefenceConnect.com.au, that's the space sector. It's an emerging part within the Australian security ecosystem, military ecosystem, and there's some very smart and talented people both within industry but also academia who's doing some great stuff here, which I feel is going to help propel Australia's capabilities in the space sector into the generations ahead.
A little bit outside my skillset and I've brought someone to the studio today who I feel as though is going to give us a really good representation of the market, the space sector in Australia today, and just what those opportunities are for Australia. I also want to try and get a bit of an insight into the type of work this business is undertaking to help support this national endeavour. I have Rod Drury who is the managing director, Australia and New Zealand, of Lockheed Martin Space. How're you going?
Rod Drury: Very good, thanks, and thanks for inviting me in.
Phil Tarrant: Oh, no, it's good to have you here, and just to my very brief preamble there, I'm familiar with what we're doing within the space sector, but compared to maybe some other areas that we cover, whether it's land, air, sea, some of the major programme acquisition programmes going on right now, I'm not as well versed in the space sector, so I'm going to lean on you to help me out here and hopefully this is as much of a benefit of my education as well as our listeners about what we're doing in this regard. So, before we get started Rod, I just want to paint a bit of a picture about who you are and the role that you play in Lockheed Martin. I know that you're an ex-Air Force man.
Rod Drury: Yes.
Phil Tarrant: I bet you've been with Lockheed Martin for some time. So, could you just give me a quick overview of the career that takes you to a point where you're leading the charge within Lockheed Martin on the space front?
Rod Drury: Yeah, sure, I was lucky to serve our nation for 20 years in the Royal Australian Air Force. I had a variety of postings in a number of different countries and during that career I was very fortunate to spend quite some time either directly or indirectly linked with space. Since then, I had a very successful career with Boeing that lasted about 10 or 11 years, picking up a lot of the commercial skills in business development, how to run a business and government relations and strategy. And really learning what the commercial realities are, what the political realities are, both domestic, global and how to meld them all together and if you like, to hopefully grow and run a business.
And then I've been with Lockheed for about four and a half, five years now, and I'm in the role where I'm responsible for the day to day running and growth of the Lockheed Martin space business in Australia and New Zealand. Very exciting.
Phil Tarrant: So, in terms of hierarchy then, within the overall objectives of Lockheed Martin and Australia and New Zealand, where does space fit within that sort of organisational hierarchy?
Rod Drury: Well, space fits in it, if you like, no more superior or inferior to any of the other elements. The business here in Australia comprises a number of different elements. We have the aeronautics area that predominantly looks after the F-35 and the C-130 fleets and associated capabilities. We have the missiles and fire control, mainly to do with weaponries you don't understand, and then we have rotary emission solutions, which really encompasses a whole number of areas, not the least of which would be helicopters, but also with shipping, with systems on board those ships and then, of course, if you like, the hub that brings everything together, the command, control, communications, information security type systems that network that all together.
And then, of course, space. And we cover the whole portfolio for Lockheed Martin, so we look at everything ranging from research and development all the way through to launch, to satellite, whether it's for commercial or for a military customer, we also look at the ... aspects of space, the far-reaching endeavor-type activities. What we also do, though, is the important bit and that's the heart that brings it all together, and that's our missions solutions area. So, we're really fortunate, we represent the whole portfolio and we try to represent that, bring that to the customers' attention, but not only that, look for opportunities, obviously, where we can grow the business in Australia.
Phil Tarrant: And within the context of space in Australia right now, there's a few moving parts. You've got the Space Industry Capability Review, there's this push towards a national space agency. So, it's big picture stuff, right? We're thinking longer term. What's your view of sophistication as it sits right now of Australia's space capabilities and view towards space? Obviously we're looking ahead, but what's your feelings now on the sentiment of the status quo?
Rod Drury: Well, first and foremost, very positive. Most people don't realise just how much space plays a part in our everyday lives. From the day, minute we wake up to when we go to bed, throughout the day, whether it's through devices, whether it's driving, meeting people at certain venues, using your telephone, using your ATM, pumping fuel, there's a whole range of different interactions that we have throughout the day that actually rely on space. And so, like I said, most people, I don't think, fully understand the ramifications and the impact that that all has.
We are very, very positive in not only the capabilities that exist in-country, but what we think as a company that we can bring to Australia and either deliver in our own right or what we're really trying to do is look for opportunities to partner with Australian companies or universities, small to medium enterprises, to deliver those, ultimately, capabilities to the Australian people.
Phil Tarrant: And what's the view of our international counterparts? So, our friends in the US and maybe Europe towards our local, domestic space capabilities?
Rod Drury: Very positive. I think a very clear indication of what Lockheed Martin thinks of it is the establishment of the role that I'm in and the resources and the funding that is provided to Australia, not only this year, but in previous years, the investments that we've made. And I foresee that that would continue, probably increase over years to come. We see lots of new business opportunities. And frankly, we're very excited about a lot of the technology that we see. Like I said, homegrown Australian technology, we own the intellectual property here in country and what we often do at Lockheed is we try to identify those and see where we can help and then, with the ultimate goal of taking them to a global market. Using it, ostensibly, to deliver an Australian outcome or a New Zealand outcome or a regional outcome, but I think that what we'd really like to do is take some of that technology, to, as I said, to a global market. And we're doing some of that right now.
Phil Tarrant: And my view of space in Australia, and I guess at a regional level, there's a degree of collaboration between all of the major players. From a Lockheed Martin perspective, obviously there's a commercial opportunity for you, but there is a more holistic opportunity in terms of building the whole community around space and really looking at that talent we have within Australia, within academia, to try and extrapolate some of those very smart technologies and ideas into commercial viabilities, which gives us an advantage, whatever that advantage is. The Space Entry Capability Review, it's a big piece of work. What's been your involvement in that and what's your views on that?
Rod Drury: Yeah, well, let me start off by saying, firstly, we welcome the government announcement, firstly to conduct the review and then their announcement to establish the National Space Agency around mid-2018. Let me say that the review has been very active, it's been very well run, led by Dr. Megan Clark, she's been very engaging. We have been invited on a number of occasions to submit formal representations. There's been chances to meet in small groups to voice our thoughts, our ideas, perhaps our concerns. We think that that whole activity will really produce a good outcome and we're looking forward to what the government might decide to do with the outcome of that review.
I think one of the things that's probably been most heartening out of the review is, if you like, recognition of what some of those underlying capabilities are, I think what you'll find is when that report comes out and it's only, if you like my thoughts here in the sense that I think they've uncovered that we actually have significant ... Not only elements, but layers of capability, but the trouble is they're often spread, they're often not known, and I think it's been a realisation for a number of people involved directly and indirectly, of just what we really have in Australia. And then as I said, we at Lockheed spend a lot of our time looking for the new technologies and the new ideas and we have a number of investments today, where we're funding research and development activities underway with Australian universities and some of those are maturing at a very good rate and some of them, they're particularly exciting and we think that there are global market opportunities with those.
So, back to the review, very positive. We hope it will really shape the direction of the future, it will give, particularly if you like the outside agencies that are trying to engage into Australia, give them a single focal point to come through the agency and not only a way of funnelling in but also funnelling out and having a clear, consistent voice in both regional and in global space community engagement.
Phil Tarrant: And the commentary, the dialogue, the emphasis placed on space is really gaining momentum within Australia and there's a spotlight being put on it and at Defence Connect, we'll continue to do that as well. So, a lot of people might feel as though this is a new thing that's come out and Lockheed's a new player to the game, you've been doing this for a while, haven't you? Lockheed in Australia.
Rod Drury: Yes. I mean, not only us, obviously, a number of companies, but yeah, so I would say that Lockheed's got a very unique and somewhat unmatched heritage in a lot of aspects with space. Not only, if you like, in the US, but around the globe. As I said to you before, we have a very broad portfolio, we have a lot of capabilities that we offer. We have a lot of very smart engineers, project managers, people that bring those capabilities together and we believe we can compete with the best around the world. We would say that we have done space, we've been doing space for a long time. We're still ambitious, we've still got ideas, we've still got problems we want to help solve, but the reality is is that, to use the good old Australian saying, we've got a lot of runs on the board. We've been doing this for a long period of time.
Phil Tarrant: And when you look at the opportunity within the space sector, you mentioned the uncovering this talent or these capabilities we have which no one knows about, right? And that's a big opportunity, but it also poses a challenge. So, when you look at the sort of critical dialogue between government, academia, Australian industry, i.e. you guys in the wider community, what's your observations on how well that's working right now and what do you think needs to be done to really amplify those chances for connectivity and dialogue?
Rod Drury: I think the dialogue at the moment is probably indicative of where the space, if you like the space market is in Australia. And that is, it's still maturing. It's really replicating what I would say has gone on before over many, many decades ago, whether it was with rail or ships, with cars or with aircraft in aero, it just happens to be the space phase, if you like, we're going through. But the challenge at the moment is to mature that dialogue that's occurring across our nation, so that we can achieve the goals. Because at the moment, what tends to happen is that some of that dialogue gets distracted because people are trying to sustain a business. They're trying to generate profit. They're trying to win contracts. So, there's still a lot of competition.
One of the things I would highlight though, is that there's a number of very good companies that are here that have very good capabilities. They've been operating in Australia for a long period of time, they often go unrecognised and if you like, I think what companies like Lockheed are looking to do is to come along and look at how we can enhance that. What do we have in our cupboard of tricks? What can we bring, if you like, to the solution space, that would really enhance an offering that's in Australia today? Now, it might be a widget, it might be a set of widgets, it might be a whole box of them. But it's engaging, it's uncovering. It's nurturing, it's helping. And by the way, sometimes it's been mature enough where we say, "They've got it covered. We actually can't value add."
I think the other thing that I'd like to bring into the discussion at this stage is also about the people. It's very well recognised globally that Australia produces some excellent minds when it comes to the people and what they can contribute, if you like, to the global space market. And so, you know, there's a challenge. The challenge is, we generate through STEM activities, through academia, through education programmes, we generate these great people, but unfortunately, what tends to have happened in the past is they've got offshore, because that's where the career opportunities are.
And so, another part of this long term objective, I think, has got to be that we want to keep that talent in Australia or at least give them a place to come back to, where they can continue to grow and prosper. But it's a great challenge, it's a great opportunity, it really is a flavour at the moment and I think the opportunities match it.
Phil Tarrant: I guess while we're chatting about STEM, I wanted to ask you about this, so I'll talk about it now. So, the STEM option is huge, we need to make sure that we continue to breed the next generation of talent, science, engineering, maths, et cetera. And then you speak about this brain drain. So, we build bright, smart people with capabilities, but we lose them offshore. So, keeping them here in Australia, do you think we're doing enough in terms of generating interest in STEM? Down from universities, though, before we get to universities, and what's Lockheed doing in that regards?
Rod Drury: Yeah, great question and I'm going to give you a very biassed answer, and that'll be no. We're not doing enough. But that's because of the opportunities I foresee in the future and the fact that I've got at least some insights from where I sit to the demands we're going to have on the workforce of Australia. And it is of concern to us. Because if we don't encourage and build those skills, the people that we need in 5 to 10 years just won't be available.
Lockheed Martin is particularly active in STEM. Our leadership, all the way to Miss Hewson, who's the head of our company. Personally, very involved, very proactive, right across the company, right across the globe and even here in Australia, we have a number of areas where we contribute to. A couple of examples for you would be the National Youth Science Forum, that activity's just been underway. Very positive, very fulfilling for our people to be involved in and very energising, because of the questioning and the encouragement we see, if you like, in the eyes and participation of the young men and women that participate in it. We were also really pleased because of the diversity that we see in that. We've seen increasing involvement with females. Their numbers keep increasing. We like to encourage it. We think diversity brings the best out in the industry, but that's just one example. We have the Victorian secondary schools science education programme down in Melbourne, V-Sec, we provide a very small sponsorship, again, another programme that's encouraging students, giving them a little more of a hands-on experience.
The general feedback we get is that as soon as you mention space, the students are motivated. They're excited by it. And frankly, whilst I'm somebody at the other end of my career, I am the same. So, it's really the opportunity, it's whether we can realise that opportunity and, like I said, it's whether we can encourage, motivate ... Because you know, we're in competition with a lot of other markets, you know.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah, and if you're going to be hard and score Australia on our ... And not Lockheed Martin, but collectively as a nation on this STEM front, if you had to score us against what happens in the States as a benchmark, where would we sit?
Rod Drury: I think by and large, we're either on par or perhaps just ahead.
Phil Tarrant: Okay.
Rod Drury: Is what my feeling would be. The real issue, though, is opportunity and the fact that we've got a chance here, if you like, to realign. We certainly have some work to do, because like I said, we can see the opportunities as they're coming, and one of the things that we've been talking to government about is, you know, how do we look at the curriculum? What are the skills that we need? Other members in the industry are doing the exact same. How do we shape, is it ... Do we still need what I would call "Standard maths," or do we need a bit more analytical maths or a little bit more analytical skills? Certainly we believe you will, going forward.
So, there's a number of things that we've been in communication and trying to provide feedback on that. Schools are very receptive. Governments of both persuasions have been very receptive. Education department, you know, the various departments are all very receptive to it, because I think it's a real challenge and I think it's something we've got to work on collectively. And I can share with you that it's not just Australia's problem. It's a problem that applies to us, but it's also a problem that applies in the region, and, in fact, around the globe. Because space, if you think of it in the sense of our hardware and equipment, tends to be singular units.
So, people have a view that we produce, for example, satellites a bit like a car production line. Maybe, well let's say, 2,000 units a year. Well, you know, most satellite, if you like, builders in the world today, they might be producing ... And I'm talking large satellites, they might be producing two, three, four or five. Now, sure, there is new market opportunities opening with small satellites, nano-satellites, they take a different manufacturing cycle, if you like. But the point I'm making is that you don't have hundreds of people on a production line. A lot of the work that goes on in space is around the technology, it's around the testing, it's around the quality, and of course it's also around the data or the imagery that is produced from the space-based asset and it's certainly my view that that's really an area that I think is ripe for Australia to really get involved in.
Phil Tarrant: And you mentioned before about the customer. Imagine the government's your customer. How do you break down your customer base for Lockheed's capabilities in Australia?
Rod Drury: Well, yeah, good question. The government ... In a traditional model, you would think the government was pretty much our focus, but frankly, it's not only the government. We have commercial customers. For example, some of the, if you like, satellite service providers, so companies an NBN or an Optus, believe it or not, they provide services to companies like Foxtel or other service providers. And so, we're all kind of somewhat interwoven and it also depends on the type of capability. Certainly, governments tend to lead certain market segments.
So, for example, if we were to do some exploratory space, so the work we're doing on our Mars Base Camp, for example, a very big programme that Lockheed is putting a lot of time, effort and money in to, frankly because of the challenge, the fact that we think we can solve that problem. We have solved some of that problem, but there's more to go. Governments tend to fund that, because it's very hard to close a business case on the money that you would need to send a vehicle and people to Mars and how you would get that return. But what we're seeing today, very much in the communications segment, for example, is that it's the commercial sector that is really leading the way.
And so, a lot of the technology that we're now rolling out in our latest satellite offerings is really being driven by the commercial side of the business, and certainly where governments see a benefit of it, they pick it up. But it's really being driven by the commercial side.
Phil Tarrant: And, I just want to touch on that. Often, a service or provision of a service into a customer is driven by customer demand, but I imagine space might be flipped on its head, whereas the work going into creating new ways of doing things, there might not yet be a need by the customer. So, how does that disconnect or how does that work in unison? I imagine the technology you have, the government or your customers don't yet know about it, so you need to sell that in to it. So, can you tell me of that sales process?
Rod Drury: That's an excellent question, because it's a real balancing act. So, let me break it down a little bit for you, because the market kind of varies a bit. You often find that the government and their various customer groups are interested in leading-edge technology and please remember that a lot of our technology sits in space for a long period of time. You know, most of our large satellites, for example, will set there for a minimum of 15 years on orbit. So, once it goes, you've got 15 years for that technology to, effectively, sit there and you've got limited chances, some would say no chance, to go up and refresh it. There's obviously a different argument if you're looking at smaller satellites, which are in lower orbit and they're much more shorter duration, if you like, in space.
So, sometimes it's the government. The big end of town. They've got requirements, particularly in national security or Defence-related areas, where they foresee that challenge and they're willing to put the money up to fund some of that more leading-edge innovation. But then you get to the other, if you like, end of the spectrum where you've got the commercial realities, where you've got customers who have to have capability that is reliable, but they've also got a changing nature to their customer. And so, what we've done is you've got to get the balance between where the risk is, where the return is, and what the changing requirements are and that's ... It's for those reasons that we have come up with some of the payloads now, where you can re-assign frequencies and certain capabilities, while the spacecraft, while the satellite is in space, because it takes care of demographic changes, for example.
If all of a sudden you had a population change that had a big draw in a particular area, for, say that you had a whole population turn up say, let's call it a mining town. All of a sudden, you had an influx of people, a couple of thousand people there to work that mine. They all want to have internet, they all want to have movies on demand and that. Well, what that would mean is, unless the satellites that were covering that area had that capacity, you'd have to re-program that. And so, we've embedded that, that's in our commercial offerings and what we provide today.
Yeah, but coming out of space, if you're looking at the ground segment, the same model applies. The difference is, of course, you can get to it. You can service it. You can update it. You can make the software change if you need to. You know, a lot easier. And so, the model really changes depending on ... When we're talking about space, whether it's really a space-based capability or whether it's something on the ground or something that's, perhaps, transient, that we can get to and modify and change.
But the real driver is the market and the demand and again, there's one more element to it and of course, that is, do we take an internal risk of an investment in a technology because we think there will be a demand for it in the future? And we certainly do some of that. It's very complex, as you'd imagine, there's a hell of a lot of ... A lot of analysis has to go on to do with risk assessment and trying to close business models and that. And sometimes, you're a market leader, sometimes you're a market responder. We have some technology right now that we're working on here with universities in Australia that we fundamentally believe will be a market-leading technology. It will ... It won't necessarily shift how we do business, but it's bringing a new paradigm to how we might solve a problem and particularly, what that cost base might be, about how we would deliver that service to the customer.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah. I can tell you have a real passion for this space and that's excellent from, I guess from a commercialization perspective, from a delivery perspective from Lockheed Martin, but what is that X-factor? What is that that really excites you about working within space? Obviously there is ... At some point in time, hopefully in my lifetime, there's a mission to Mars and I imagine Lockheed Martin will have an involvement within that, but what is it that really, really sort of gets you excited about what you do every day?
Rod Drury: That's a great question. And I get asked that somewhat regularly, and it's a simple answer for me, it's the challenge. It's the challenge that space provides. It's the challenge that I have in the role that I've got. It's the challenge, if you like, that you see in the participants in our STEM programmes. It's the challenge, I guess, sometimes a little more in wonderment at some of the achievements that this company delivers and, frankly, what the whole of industry delivers, because we don't by any suggestion own and operate the best of everything. We often admire what our competitors do. We often admire what people think about.
As I said to you, before we came on air, one of the many great things we get to do is to engage with universities and the brilliance that are around and people's thinking and how they break problems down and how they solve those problems and they may not necessarily see a solution for that problem, but I would argue that's when people like myself come in and kind of say, "Okay, well, that widget that you've done there, actually does this. Well, how would you like us to repurpose it?'
And I can give you a really good example that we're really proud of is, we've announced late in 2017 a funded research and development activity we were doing with Curtin University, where they have a fireball ... They call it the Desert Fireball Network and it's a program that they've been operating for a number of years, where they actually detect, effectively, meteorites. And they track them very accurately and the reason they do it is because the group that generate this, Dr. Phil Bland and his team, they're geologists and what they want to do is they want to go and pick up that meteorite and, of course, conduct their own research and development into the geological factors, if you like, of what they collect.
So, we became aware of that technology. We'd been thinking about some challenges with space situational awareness, which is where we're looking at the debris that sits up there all day every day, and the active satellites and that, and what we've undertaken is a line of research and development activities, we look like ... In fact, I can tell you, we look like we're pretty much there, where we're going to be able to repurpose those devices and use them to detect and track, with very good accuracy, at a very good, if you like, value proposition, all on Australian technology.
That's what motivates me, that's what excites me, because that's a challenge. Sitting here, Australian home grown and we like to think we can value add, but the discussions continue. The technology's working, we hope to demonstrate that to the customer very soon. But to answer your question, that's really what motivates me.
Phil Tarrant: And Lockheed Martin corporate, US has made a strategic decision to invest in space, in Australia and New Zealand, or this region. How do they measure whether or not you guys are doing a good job? What's the scorecard for you guys?
Rod Drury: Well, I mean, the reality is is, there's probably a number of different score cards. The two real score cards, if you like, are business commitments. Ultimately, we're a commercial entity and we're really here to provide a return to our shareholder. I mean, in the end of the day, that's one of the scorecards. But I think there's another scorecard, which, fortunately, Lockheed also takes very much to heart and that's about your role in the community. We really see that it's not always and only about coming into a country and looking for the business opportunities and taking the money away, we also see being part of the, what I call the Australia and New Zealand space community is also very, very important and we do that in a number of different ways. Ones that are very well known, like our sponsorship of the international Astronautical Congress in 2017, held in Adelaide, which was very successful because it put a spotlight on Australia, Australian industry and New Zealand industry and capabilities.
But we also do it in the day to day, where we might be representational, like I was in Adelaide yesterday with the Space Industry Association of Australia, on the board of that, working up our strategic plan, whether we were engaging with small to medium enterprises, whether we're mentoring. There's so many different aspects. So, my answer to you would be it's two fold. There's a business reality, but I'm really pleased to tell you that Lockheed also sees this community responsibility and engagement is also very, very close to its heart in how we engage and I also just want to highlight that it's not just space that looks at that. The company does have that attitude with all aspects of our business and I think that's a sign of a company that's been very successful, enduring and commercially, very viable.
Phil Tarrant: And you briefly mentioned there, you sit on the board of the Space Industry Association of Australia. If I come around to one of your board meetings, I don't know how often you meet, but just say if I did hypothetically, what would I hear you guys talking about?
Rod Drury: Well, yesterday you would have heard us talking about the strategic plan for the next three years. We've just gone through a fairly busy cycle where we really were focused on incorporating what was an association really into a national body, incorporated body. So, we had a lot of those activities. We were also tasked with running the International Astronautical Congress, where about 4,500 delegates turned up. A lot of aspects to that. So, that really was our focus for the last number of years and so what you would've heard yesterday was it was actually a full day. We spent about four hours, four or five hours on strategic planning, looking at what we are going to do in the future. We're trying to be a very proactive organisation, we want to represent our marketplace, we want to represent our constituents, our membership.
And so, what we were looking at was a package of activities, really around education, how do we highlight what we do? How do we inform people about space? You know, a lot of people are excited about space but don't quite understand it and we get that, so there's that aspect to it. We spoke also around about membership. How do we better represent our members? What do our members expect of us? And then we talked a little bit more also about how do we contribute, for example, to STEM?
So, that was one of the other key activities and then the other topic that we spent some time on was just getting our organisation its governance and its future plans and the way we conduct ourselves and represent ourselves, really, in one package. But it's very vibrant, it's got good representation on the board, pretty much across the industry. Because whilst it's called the Space Industry Association, the reality of industry in this context is it's really around individuals or companies or groups drawn from academia, from government, from industry and from research and development. So, it's not purely companies with a business mindset, if you like. We're very focused on the fact that it's going to require all of us, because it's back to that issue we talked about before with STEM, right? And it's back to how do we educate, how do we motivate, how do prepare ourselves for the future? And there's so many different aspects that we've got to get right.
Phil Tarrant: Well, it’s key for championing space development in Australia, but so, that's one of many parts of this community and you mentioned Lockheed Martin's playing a role within that, but you're shaping, to me, this sort of Team Australia approach to this. So, obviously, there's going to be competitors, there's going to be collaborators, and that helps for creating a vibrant industry. But would you say, by and large, everyone's on the same page? There is this collective Team Australia approach?
Rod Drury: Look, I would say that as a general statement, everybody's heading in the same direction. I think, naturally as we mature as a market and as we grow as an industry, there will always be some, if you like, ripples on the pond and some of that will be resolved in time. The agency, of course, is going to bring some strong leadership there and some guidance and direction. Industry needs to play a big part of that. We've been ... We Lockheed, have been very strong and consistent in our messaging that we think industry's got a role to play there and that's industry collectively. And of course, that's industry whether it's a Lockheed, if you like, being a multinational, or whether it's a single academic that's got a great idea that's possibly going to change the future of the market in many years to come. It doesn't matter. Everybody's got a role to play.
And I think that's part of the challenge we've got at the moment, is engaging everybody with the idea that we've all got a role to play. We're not all going to win every business opportunity, we're not all going to get our outcomes that we want, but like I said, if you look back at the what I would call similar markets, them being aviation and automobiles and shipping, rail. They had the same challenges, it's just that we're at a different paradigm in life and the internet and fundings and the global nature of business these days just brings different challenges.
Phil Tarrant: Now, I'm getting the nod from Sam, I know I'm sort of going a little bit overtime, but I'm going to be a bit selfish here, because I'm really enjoying this chat and it's great for my education. I know a lot of people who are tuning into the podcast and thank you for doing that, it's quite popular, so it's nice to know we're delivering value to industry. Space is one of those things which is ... There's little uncertainty, both within defence and outside defence. There's a couple of tangibles. A lot of our listeners and readers at DefenceConnect.com.au would sort of said SBAS all over the joint and familiar with the term, acronym, but not really too sure about what it is. Could you just give me and everyone else a quick 101 on SBAS?
Rod Drury: Yeah, sure, so SBAS is a Satellite-Based Augmentation System and it's really around ... Aimed at improving the accuracy of, if you like, of navigation. And so, what I'm really saying there is that it's improving the accuracy of your ability to pinpoint yourself very precisely as to where you are. I'll say in space, but what I mean is anywhere, either on the ground, in the water, in the air, or in space. And so, what's happened is Lockheed Martin, working with our partners, GMV of Spain, have put forward a testbed which the Australian government, last February, and the government of New Zealand, early last year as well, got together and funded us to demonstrate the capability.
And what we are basically demonstrating here, locally, is technology that's already proven, where we're taking multiple constellations of satellite signals, so, these are signals coming from a GPS and say from a Galileo, so they're just different networks that are in different paths in space and what we're doing is we're gathering those two signals and we're processing those signals with what we would call a filter applied due to the local atmospherics or interference, if you like, with those signals. It's very minor, you don't see it, it's really something, however, that allows us to get very precise measurements. And so, what it ... That we've talked about in the past is that the outcomes of this SBAS will be to take accuracy that, if you think of is about 10 metre accuracy today, so in other words, if you're on a point and if you drew a circle 10 metres around you, you're somewhere in that and it's accurate to that, and we're going to take that down to centimetres.
And let me give you a very good example of how it works. If you have an autonomous, say, vehicle and you're driving on a ... Let's call it a three-lane highway today. If the car is in the middle lane or one of the side lanes and there's no one around, probably not a great issue. You're travelling along. But if you want to put that vehicle into a parking space, in a congested city, you're going to need it to be particularly accurate. So, I'm just giving you a feel for what the sensitivity of that change is. There's been a lot of interest by industry, we ... There's somewhat overwhelming, in fact, the number of industry, academia that have come forward looking to use the test signal to come up with applications or different uses of the improved signal.
And we are very, very encouraged by that, because we think this can apply not only in Australia and New Zealand, which would be where we would launch the service, but also globally. And we're very pleased that the Australia and New Zealand government have funded the program. They are very pleased with the progress. And like I said, we've been somewhat overwhelmed with the interest that's come from the broader community. Lots of different applications for it, down to keeping, if you like, cattle in areas without fences using collars. You can use it in mining for much more precision in mining.
If you're in the outback, trying to land at an airfield but you don't have all the right, if you like, aviation instrumentation, you can use the accuracy of your navigation system to get yourself much more confidence in a landing profile. So, there's a number of different applications of it and we're very excited to be delivering that here in Australia.
Phil Tarrant: And ... I mean, thinking in the background how I'm going to conclude this podcast and I'm getting the wind-up from our producer here, Sam, so I think the way I'll do ... Personally, I think you've done a really good representation of space within the Australian context as it is right now and the opportunities and obviously the role and the pedigree of Lockheed here, even though a lot of people might not know what you've been doing. But in a year's time, when you come back on the podcast and we have a chat, what's going to be the major differences between the space industry in Australia today and the space industry in Australia in a year's time and what you might see, what it might look like in five year's time.
Rod Drury: Yeah, look, that's a great question and we do think about that. I think, publicly, the big change will ... The agency will be in place. There'll be clear leadership in Australia. Not that we haven't had it in the past, but I don't think it's been consistent in it being as visible, if you like. And so, there'll be a beacon upon which we can kind of focus.
From a Lockheed perspective, I'd like to that we will have consolidated our position, we'll have delivered on a number of programs. We'll be delivering more services to various customers. I, obviously, would like to think that SBAS has matured, that project, and gone a little further. And I'd also like to think some of the R&D investments that we've got underway, particularly the one that I've highlighted with Curtin university, will have matured into, if you like, a viable business activity.
Other things I'd like to think would happen is that we'll have had a very positive impact on STEM. Frankly, we'd like our, if you like, our competitors and other industry partners to get involved and support it, a lot of them do, but we all need to step up that little bit more. But also, I'd like to think that Lockheed would be recognised as a contributor and ... To the Australian space community, just like I'd like to think that Lockheed itself, as a title company, would be seen holistically as it contributed to the national effort, when it comes to the industries upon which we participate.
Phil Tarrant: Rod Drury, M.D., Australia and New Zealand, Lockheed Martin Space. I really appreciate that, mate. Thank you very much for sharing insights into the world and adding my knowledge and also fueling my interest in exploring this a lot more, so, pun intended.
Rod Drury: That's a pun intended.
Phil Tarrant: Not intended. But thank you, I really enjoyed it.
Rod Drury: And thank you very much for the opportunity of going to share some thoughts and we really appreciate the ongoing support that you provide and we look forward to talking to you in the future.