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Public lacks awareness of space sector, says survey

The public lacks awareness of the recent successes of Australia’s space industry, according to a landmark new survey.

The report, commissioned by the academic group the Australian Centre for Space Governance (ACSG), even found one in five hadn’t heard of the Australian Space Agency (ASA).

It came as the sector grapples with a talent shortage and a need to attract tens of thousands of recruits to maintain its growth.

“While one of the goals of the ASA is to engage with the Australian public, the public still reported low engagement levels with this relatively new organisation,” read the report.


“When asked whether they had followed the ASA’s activities over the five years of its existence, respondents who had not followed the ASA were in the majority at 33.4 per cent.

“Notably, more respondents had not heard of the Agency (20.8 per cent) than had followed it (19.7 per cent). This disconnect could imply that higher volumes or more effective public messaging and engagement may be important for organisations with a space focus in Australia.”

The survey, which you can read here, examined the Australian public’s keen interest in space and questioned 1,579 adults in Australia over 16 days during September and October 2023.

It was authored by academics Dr Tristan Moss, Dr Kat Robison Hasani, and Dr Aleksandar Deejay.


“Through detailed analysis and consultations with key stakeholders, the survey highlights an uncertainty among Australians regarding their stance on space-related government initiatives and the nation’s direction in space,” added the report.

“Our findings show that there is a unique opportunity for the academic community, space industry, and government to more actively engage with the public on these issues. Further engagement is essential for developing a well-informed national attitude on Australia’s future space activities.”

Other findings detailed how the public was more familiar with achievements in the sector’s past.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its cultural cachet, 58.1 per cent of respondents were aware of the 2001 film The Dish, which focused on the Parkes Radio Telescope’s involvement in the moon landings,” it continued.

“Similarly, 48.6 per cent of respondents were aware of Australia’s support for the Apollo moon landings.

A similar percentage had heard of tracking stations in Australia (43.9 per cent), the rocket range at Woomera (41.5 per cent), Skylab’s re-entry over Perth (39.5 per cent), and the two Australian-born astronauts Andrew Thomas and Paul Scully-Power (36.7 per cent).

“However, while it is often celebrated as a distinctly Australian achievement, relatively few (16.7 per cent) respondents were aware of Australia’s first and only locally produced and launched satellite, WRESAT, launched in 1967 from Woomera on an American Redstone rocket,” it said.

The ACSG brings together experts from a variety of fields across six different universities: ANU, Flinders University, RMIT, University of Adelaide, UNSW Canberra, and Western Sydney University.

Deejay, who is also an executive director of the ACSG, said: “We are inextricably reliant on space technologies in modern society, and while the Australian public is curious about space it has expressed it lacks a solid awareness of Australia’s space endeavours and the functions and everyday value of space technology.”

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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