Aussie space industry ready for launch: Dr Megan Clarke
The head of the new Australian Space Agency (ASA), Dr Megan Clark, has said there is palpable momentum in the space sector in every state and territory.
Although only formed on 1 July last year, ASA has already notched up a long list of achievements in its goal of of tripling the space sector’s contribution to Australia’s GDP to $12 billion, and creating up to 20,000 new jobs.
In an address to the Australasia Satellite Forum in Sydney this week, Dr Clark said ASA's purpose was crystal clear.
“It is to transform and grow a globally respected space industry in Australia, to do that through partnerships, and to make sure all Australians are inspired by looking up and seeing what Australia is doing in space,” she said.
“When you’re a small agency you absolutely need to be focused in your purpose and I can assure you, we are.”
Dr Clark cited a lengthy list of achievements in less than a year of ASA operations.
It’s signed four memorandums of understanding with overseas agencies: CNES of France and with the Canadian, UK and UAE space agencies.
ASA has also represented Australia at a number of international space forums.
“We have been doing the simple job that the country asked us to do, which was to open the doors internationally, be one voice, and allow our researchers and industry through the doors that previously had been blocked or shut to them,” Dr Clark said.
In Australia, ASA has signed a number of statements of strategic intent to indicate its direction and seek strategic alignment from industry partners, Airbus, Sitael, Goonhilly, Boeing, Nova Systems, Lockheed Martin and Woodside.
Dr Clark said there was now $1.3 billion worth of projects in the civil space pipeline, well up from a few hundred million of recent years.
Half those projects are in communications and ground infrastructure, while 20 per cent are in leapfrog research and development and another 20 per cent in positioning and navigation.
“I’m very encouraged by not just the amount of that pipeline, but where it’s actually going,” she said.
A number of launch licences were in the pipeline. Dr Clark said that was more than Australia has done in the last 40 years.
On the legislation front, Federal Parliament had passed the Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 and ASA has now started consultation on the associated regulations.
These will set out insurance requirements for launch or return with the objective of reducing the barriers to entry.
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