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ASA head Palermo rubs elbows with G20 space leaders

Jake Nelson

Australian Space Agency (ASA) head Enrico Palermo has met with other global space economy leaders at the fourth G20 Space Economy Leaders Meeting (SELM) in Bengaluru, India.

The meeting, which brings together heads of space agencies across the G20 nations, saw ASA discuss the role of space in the global economy and how Australia can contribute on the international stage.

“Space is a global industry that relies on strong international partnerships,” Palermo said. “Our agency is the gateway for the global space sector to engage with Australia — through space, climate, exploration, or industry-to-industry collaboration.”

Palermo also met with Sreedhara Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), to discuss Australian support for India’s Gaganyaan Human Space Flight Program via tracking stations in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and with Pawan Goenka, chairman of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) for an update on Australia’s International Space Investment India (India ISI) program.


“Australia’s commercial space sector is rapidly growing and we are producing incredibly unique and innovative space technologies that can, and will, support our G20 partners like India and support space missions into the future,” said Palermo.

“It’s important for us to seize the opportunity forums such as the G20 and the SELM event bring — to establish ways to strategically collaborate based on the strengths we each have to offer.”

The positive news comes despite the federal government recently confirming speculation it would scrap a high-profile, $1.2 billion project to detect bushfires from space.

The National Space Mission for Earth Observation (NSMEO) was announced by the previous administration in the weeks leading up to the election and would have seen four local satellites launched from 2028.


It significantly follows the cancelling of a separate promise to invest $32.3 million into Australia’s spaceports and launch sites, and amid criticism Labor lacks interest in the space sector.

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic insisted the decision to cut NSMEO wouldn’t affect its commitment to the local industry.

“That's why in our recent budget, we placed the Australian Space Agency on a sustainable financial footing,” he said.

“Not only does the sector draw on significant support from across portfolios, but space-related firms, will also be able to access capital through our $15 billion NRF plus our newly announced $392 million Industry Growth Program.”

The $1.2 billion program was set to be jointly led by ASA, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology, and the Department of Defence.

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