Australia Is One Step Closer To Getting A Space Agency

Image: iStock

The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science just revealed the Government will review Australia's space industry capability. The idea is to create on a long-term plan, which could include the nation getting its own space agency.

Arthur Sinodinos says the review will be led by an Expert Review Group, chaired by former CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark. There will be a consultation process and a good look at what our current capability and areas of comparative advantage are. Collaborations with international agencies, like the ESO, will also be considered.

"The space industry sector has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.52 per cent from 1998 to 2015, more than three times the annual growth rate of world GDP in the same period," Sinodinos said. "Globally, revenue from space-related activities in 2015 was about US$323 billion."

Sinodinos says the Government wants to make sure there's a solid right framework and mix of incentives put in place.

"I believe that Australia can participate in the global space sector and through development of the technical capability and knowledge required for this demanding sector, we will develop skills to grow other advanced manufacturing industries in Australia."

The main points of the review will be identifying Australia's current industry capability and areas of comparative advantage for Australia to develop; technologies and practices that promote innovation in both the downstream (users of space technologies) and upstream (providers of space technologies) elements of space activities, particularly in areas of niche capability and competitive advantage; and Australia's level of regional engagement and international collaboration, including identifying critical future and existing partnerships.

Identifying capability gaps to support the global competitiveness of Australian firms in the civil space sector; strategies to promote Australian firms engaged in the civil space sector, both domestically and internationally; risks and opportunities, including ongoing access to space data and associated infrastructure essential to our national interests and alignment with other sectors and Australian Government priorities, including Defence and cyber security, and meeting Australia’s international obligations are also on the table.

The review also hopes to identify he most effective institutional arrangements to support the strategic direction of Australia's space industry.

Work will kick off at the first meeting of the Expert Reference Group on 20 July, and should be ready by April 2018.

CEO and co-founder of Australian nanosatellite startup Fleet, Flavia Tata Nardini, will also be on the review board.

"Today's announcement shows that the Federal Government is taking the potential of space more seriously, which is exciting news for Australia," Nardini says. "The next industrial revolution is going to be driven from space, and so to future-proof Australia's economic prosperity, we have to be a part of that movement today."

Nardini points out that Australia is "amazing" at space research, but our commercial application of the sector needs work. This review is a huge step forward in achieving that goal.

"Australia's role in space must be on our national agenda if we are to truly capitalise on the opportunities it presents," Nardini says. "The sector is quickly growing and will become a key part of any nation with a successful innovation agenda in the coming decade."

Nardini says a strategy that enables better international collaboration must be an outcome of the review, and more support for space-led innovation (satellites, rockets, or deep space exploration) is needed. Nardini believes the best way for us to achieve these things is through an Australian Space Agency.

Imagine the opportunities this would bring the national STEM curriculum, to inspire the next generation of space entrepreneurs and enthusiasts?

As Nardini says, "We need to let the world know we're open for space business!"