Increasing Australia’s share in the global space industry

Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash yesterday officially announced the government’s plan to establish the first Australian Space Agency, helping Australian businesses win a greater share of the multi-billion dollar global space market.

The government has also released a response to the review of Australia’s Space Industry Capability – a report commissioned by the government in July last year and delivered by the Expert Reference Group (ERG) in March this year.

Minister Cash said the national space agency would start operating from 1 July 2018 and will be headed during its first year of operation by Dr Megan Clark, a former head of CSIRO who also led the ERG.

“The global space economy is worth around USD 345 billion, and growing at nearly 10 percent a year, and yet, despite the outstanding capability here on our shores, Australia only accounts for 0.8 percent of the global space economy,” Minister Cash said.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to triple the size of our domestic space industry to up to $12 billion by 2030 and create a new industry, and jobs, for Australians,” she added.

The Federal Budget 2018-19 has dedicated $41 million over the next four years towards establishing The Australian Space Agency. The fund also includes a $15-million investment for Australians to take part in international space projects. In addition, the government will spend $260 million to develop core satellite infrastructure and technologies.

The Expert Reference Group’s review report delivered nine key recommendations informed by its core findings. The report indicated that Australia has billions of dollars’ worth of existing space-related infrastructure, a vibrant community of active small and medium-sized space sector businesses, world-leading capability in research, satellite data analysis, and communications/.

The report also highlighted that the stakeholders have expressed a strong need for an Australian space agency with authority to coordinate activity, lift engagement, set and progress strategic national space priorities; and that there is no call for a space agency to subsume the operational and regulatory activities of other existing authorities.

The review identified a gap in Australia’s national framework that could be addressed by establishing a national space agency to act as a coordinator of civil space policy across the government and to act as an interlocutor on the global stage so that the government can develop the international networks needed to allow Australia’s space industry to achieve its full potential.

The government’s response to the review mentioned that the Australian Space Agency will be Australia’s outward facing ‘front door’ to the world on civil space matters and will also be tasked with reaching out to create partnerships with other space agencies and nations for the purposes of cooperating and opening doors for Australian businesses to access international projects.

The creation and nurturing of these international partnerships is a key objective for the Agency in its first years of operation. This will be supported through the International Space Investment initiative over three years, which will enable the Agency to partner with international space agencies. This investment will provide Australian businesses opportunities to be involved in established international space programs, with direct benefits to Australia.