Canberra-based homeland security company XTEK Limited (ASX: XTE) has entered into an agreement with Australian space services company Skykraft Pty Ltd to co-engineer and potentially manufacture a range of small spacecraft and launcher systems using its proprietary XTclave technology.
Under the agreement terms, the companies will work together to develop the hardware and identify opportunities for product supply to Skykraft from XTEK’s patented production facility.
Specifically, XTEK will develop advanced composite fibre-reinforced-plastic required for the spacecraft, and will manage design and processing technologies of components.
The company has begun working on a lightweight carbon fibre satellite structure design for Skykraft to be produced using XTclave composite curing and consolidation technology delivered from an engineering facility in South Australia.
Initially developed as a manufacturing process for ballistic protection laminates, the process employs ultra-high isostatic pressures at elevated temperatures to achieve composite curing and consolidation in thermoset and thermoplastic resin systems.
It enables the production of lighter, stronger and stiffer composite articles, with potential fibre content by volume values of up to 75%.
XTEK managing director Philippe Odouard said the Skykraft agreement would provide an opportunity to expand the company’s target market.
“This deal represents a significant commercialisation milestone for our composite capabilities and provides us with a good opportunity to work closely with Skykraft on some exciting space solutions,” he said.
“Importantly, it provides a valuable opportunity for us to expand our capabilities and presence beyond defence and into the growing Australian space composites sector.”
While XTEK remains primarily focused on the defence sector, there has been an increasing interest using XTclave in other applications, driven by potentially-enhanced performance characteristics offered by the advanced composites it can produce.
Advantages include potential reductions in plastic outgassing (a serious concern for all plastics used in space), and the achievement of higher specific strength-to-weight ratios as a result of XTclave’s ultra-high isostatic pressure.
Mr Odouard said XTEK plans to create a space composites design and production capability delivered from a yet-to-be-built factory in Australia.
Separate to this, the company is completing additional work on launcher systems and satellite deployment composite parts for space applications.
Skykraft was formed from UNSW Canberra Space, comprised of a team of academic and professional staff with facilities to enable end-to-end space mission capability.
The team has created the environment for Skykraft to rapidly conceptualise, innovate, design, build and operate spacecraft.
At mid-afternoon, shares in XTEK were up 1.12% to $0.45.