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Australia enters space race with $150m NASA deal

Initiative expected to generate 20,000 local jobs.

By Lilia Guan on Sep 24 2019 10:47 AM–150m-nasa-deal.


The Australian Government’s determination to crack into the US$350 billion global space market has seen it sign a $150m deal over five years with NASA.

The investment will accelerate the government’s target of tripling the size of the Australian space sector, and see Australia join the United States’ Moon to Mars exploration approach, including NASA’s Artemis lunar program.

At a doorstop interview in Washington, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the initiative will create about 20,000 jobs and grow into a $12 billion industry by 2030.

“Frontier technologies, quantum computing, AI. These are areas where Australia is highly respected,” he said. “We want to ensure that we’re very much part of those supply chains in the future.”

According to Morrison, the $150 million investment will benefit all Australians with more jobs, new technologies and more investment in businesses that would grow the economy.

This investment will focus on three integrated elements that will lift Australian engagement in the global space sector:

· Demonstrator and pilot projects which showcase investment-ready Australian capabilities to NASA and the US’ international space supply chains (in the areas of robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, and earth observation)

· Working with NASA to identify how Australia can support a significant part of NASA’s ‘return to the Moon and on to Mars’ program, leveraging Australia’s key strengths (drawing on the demonstrator and pilot projects)

· Supporting access to international space supply chains that support NASA, including capability building to help the Australian space sector meet the stringent requirements of supplying products and services in the global space industry

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews said the announcement was a milestone moment for the booming Australian space industry, which is currently led by the Australian Space Agency – formed 12 months ago.

“This agreement is all about opportunity, for us to take the Australian space sector to the next level, grow our economy and create new local jobs,” she said.

An artist’s impression of Artemis. Photo: Supplied

Funding will commence from 2020-21, with the next step involving the Australian Space Agency working with NASA to confirm areas of interest as well as implementation arrangements.

Areas of investment will align with the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028 and the identified Civil Space Priority areas.

Investments in the space sector are part of the Australian Government’s plan to grow the economy.

According to the 2019/2020 Federal Budget Papers, the Government planned to deliver a $19.5 million national Space Infrastructure Fund.

This includes:

· $2 million for the delivery of future world-class space manufacturing capability in New South Wales which will support the development of high-tech skills and new space objects.

· a $6 million Mission Control Centre in South Australia which will create a platform for SMEs and researchers to control small satellite missions, enabling real-time control and testing and the accelerated development of Australian satellite technology.

The announcement was made as part of the PM’s first visit to the US, where he celebrated 100 years of friendship between the two countries with US President Donald Trump.

Trump said Australia played a vital role in America’s moon mission in 1969, as part of his welcome address.

“We give thanks to the nation of Australia for its vital contributions to the extraordinary achievement,” he said. “On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong planted our great American flag on the face of the moon, the ground station broadcasting this iconic image to the world was Australian.”

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