Although his wool innovation company may end up sending its products into space, Nick Davenport's says its mission is a bit more down to earth.

"We're on a long term journey here to really boost the wool industry."

The chief executive of Lanaco spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay about the exciting news their wool-based filter technology is one of several systems being evaluated by NASA to protect astronauts on upcoming deep-space exploration missions.

Read more: Sheep space: Is NZ wool about to blast off to Mars?


Lanaco has been developing a breed of sheep called the Astino for the company's "flagship products," the success of which Davenport hopes will have a knock-on effect for New Zealand's wool industry.

"For filtration, we are creating a breeding objective using the Astino sheep to deliver what the market needs," says Davenport, "that will have spin-offs in all parts of the industry."

Listen below:

Although NASA's interest has given Lanaco some welcome publicity, Davenport says the company still focuses on matters closer to home, such as "the huge global problem," of air pollution.

"We believe [the technology] that's being used for protecting people [from] air pollution, is the same stuff that will be able to be used in space."

Davenport describes the Astino fibre as being in "the coarser end of fine" category.

Mackay asks if this product could be the saviour for New Zealand's troubled coarse wool market.

"Strong wool is going to be strongly influenced by what we do, not just in this area but also in other technology developments that we're working on so our programme will have benefits for the whole wool industry - not just our programme."