Lockheed Martin has signed five contracts with Ronson Gears under its Global Supply Chain (GSC) Program agreement with the Commonwealth. This makes the gear manufacturer the first-ever Australian company to supply precision gear components that will be carried into space.
Melbourne-based Ronson Gears is providing prototype gears for the Common Solar Array Drive Assembly (CSADA), which will be utilised on several Lockheed Martin satellite platforms.
The CSADA performs key functions, including the deployment and rotation of the solar cell arrays that power the spacecraft. This helps ensure they remain optimally positioned towards the sun.
Additionally, Ronson has also been awarded a contract for the delivery of anti-backlash output gears. Designed to perform with tight tolerances, these components will be integrated into a sub-assembly that will be used on several satellite programs.
Joe North, Lockheed Martin Australia chief executive, said, "The agreements with Ronson Gears reinforce Lockheed Martin’s commitment to developing Australia’s space sector. Our collaboration with local research and industry partners, like Ronson, demonstrates that Australia has the capabilities here and now to participate in space."
As one would expect, Lockheed Martin follows a rigorous qualification process to ensure gold standard manufacturing practices. It’s critical that the components it uses are designed to withstand the extreme environment of space. Ronson Gears has met these standards and has proven its ability to maintain precision over the lifetime of the spacecraft.
Gavin New, general manager of Ronson Gears, added, "Coming from the automotive industry, it was important that we prioritise innovation and invest in digital technologies that could enhance precision across our production processes – especially for a space environment."
Additionally, New is the most recent graduate of Lockheed Martin’s Program Management Institute (PMI), with Australia being the only non-US market approved for non-Lockheed Martin employees to attend.
Because of the pioneering work that companies like Ronson Gears have accomplished, Lockheed Martin Space procurement teams are continually scanning Australia to identify potential technology partners for its global supply chains.
"From our first introduction, Lockheed Martin has been collaborative and supported our vision. We’re proud to be the first Australian company to supply precision gear components that will be carried into space," New added.
This includes everything from machined parts to software and even propulsion technologies.
Christopher Hess, head of industrial development at Lockheed Martin Australia, said, "The Global Supply Chain (GSC) Program is uniquely Australian and provides the local market with access to Lockheed Martin’s global programs. We’re continuously identifying new opportunities for Ronson Gears to contribute to our missions, and applaud their dedication to supporting innovative initiatives such as IoT technologies."
These agreements also represent downstream supply chain opportunities for Ronson Gears’ partners, including Heat Treatment Australia and Electromold Australia. Their hardening processes and magnetic particle inspection, respectively, are evidence of the world-class capabilities available in Australia to the space industry.
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