Government working to embrace ‘sexy side’ of space business

Government working to embrace ‘sexy side’ of space business

Max Blenkin

Launching rockets is the sexy part of the space sector and everything possible should be done to promote these as broadly as possible to increase engagement, said Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews.

Australia needs to capitalise on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, she said.

Queensland space company Gilmour Space Technologies is planning its next launch before mid-year and the minister said that should be used as an opportunity to inspire Australians.

“Launch is obviously the sexy part of space. That’s what people relate to,” Minister Andrews told Space Connect.

“There are other things such as global positioning, navigation, Earth observation, that are part of space. All those sorts of things are important, but what excites people is launch.

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“I would be very keen to make sure we do everything we can to promote every launch we have here – live stream as much as possible, record it to play into schools and really just increase the level of engagement.”

Minister Andrews said Australia’s space sector had come a long way in less than a year.

 

The Australian Space Agency is up and running at its home in Adelaide, along with the mission control centre. The government has injected $335 million into the space sector.

The $19.5 million funding for the Space Infrastructure Fund includes an allocation to examine launch capabilities and a space base.

“We will engage with the space sector and with the states and territories,” she said.

“We have to look at the legislation to enable that. We are probably in a good position now but I want to make sure we have that absolutely right so we are ready to go.

“The Northern Territory is very interested, Queensland is very interested and South Australia is interested in absolutely everything to do with space.”

Minister Andrews said she was keen to examine means to encourage more private sector involvement in research and development without such a reliance on the government, particularly in the entrepreneurial space.

She said that ideally the entrepreneurs would be looking at ways to develop their businesses and grow their markets rather than simply waiting for the government to offer support.

Minister Andrews said she had spent some time examining Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), its equivalent of the CSIRO, and how it engages with industry.

“We have started doing some work with A*STAR already,” she said.

“I want to strengthen that relationship and look at how they have built such strong relationships between the research organisations and the private sector globally, not just in Singapore, and see how we can use perhaps that model or a similar model to grow the industry research engagement especially in the space sector.”

Minister Andrews said she also wanted to further develop what CSIRO had been doing with various programs to engage SMEs, not just to go after the big business dollars.

“We can make a major impact if we grow the engagement between researchers and small businesses. They are the ones who need assistance. CSIRO is already doing some work on that,” she said.

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