Space Agency head says transformation well under way for space sector

Max Blenkin

A year on from the formation of the Australian Space Agency (ASA), its inaugural head said it has made good progress in guiding the nation’s space journey.

Space Agency head says transformation well under way for space sector
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Dr Megan Clark said few things inspired quite like space and that has been exemplified during ASA’s first year.

“As we look forward, we will continue to highlight the transformation underway in the space sector and how this opens up opportunities for Australia,” she said in a message on the organisation’s first birthday.

“This transformation means companies small, medium and large can create their own business, and be prosperous in many exciting areas across the space economy. It means our research and development efforts can take Australia to the frontline of innovation in space.

“We look forward to communicating with the community to show the exciting things happening in Australia and in space. This includes how space will impact on all our lives, and how it will be an important enabler for many other industries – whether to support agriculture, emergency management, or new technologies like autonomous vehicles.”

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Dr Clark said ASA was incredibly grateful for the support from researchers, industry and the wider Australian community. She said it was wonderful to see the $245 million SmartSat CRC drawing a collective of nearly 100 partners and international collaborators – the largest space industry contingent in Australian history.

“We’re pleased to be playing our part in this nationwide effort. We have a great team who have worked hard over our first 12 months to establish a space agency that Australians can be proud of,” she said.

ASA already has notable runs on the board.

In April it released Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028, setting a national strategic pathway for Australia’s civil space sector.

That lays out seven civil space priorities over the next 10 years: position, navigation and timing; Earth observation; communications technologies and services; space situational awareness and debris monitoring; leapfrog R&D; robotics and automation on Earth and in space; and access to space.

Dr Clark said all states and territories have engaged to understand Australia’s space capabilities and to put forward strategies to transform and grow the industry.

“Our team continues to work closely with state and territory governments and industry as we further Australia’s objectives in space,” she said.

“The agency has signed agreements with the Canadian, French, UK and United Arab Emirates space agencies to explore where our nations can work together, and to further our shared ambition. Our conversations with NASA and the European Space Agency are progressing to explore more opportunities for collaboration.”

Australia’s space legislation has also been updated. That includes the passage of the Space (Launches and Returns) Amendment Act 2018, and associated sector consultation on the underlying rules.

“Finally, in support of our strategy, the agency is developing two new programs – the International Space Investment initiative, and the Space Infrastructure Fund,” she said.

“These are important programs that will serve to transform and grow Australia’s space industry into the future.”

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