Australian space technology to be part of NASA Moon mission

Image credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA

During Prime Minister, Scott Morrison’s visit to the United States, the Australian Space Agency and NASA signed an agreement to enable Australian technologies to support the US Moon to Mars program.

To enable Australian technologies to be part of the launchers, vehicles and instruments used to get US astronauts to the Moon and then on to Mars, the Australian government will invest $150 million in Australian businesses and researchers to deliver capabilities for NASA’s mission.

This investment will involve demonstrator and pilot projects of investment-ready Australian capabilities to NASA and US space supply chains. These capabilities will include Australian robotics, automation, artificial intelligence and earth observation technologies.

Next, the Australian government will invest in capability building to help Australian manufacturers meet the requirements to supply products and services to NASA and international space supply chains.

The Australian government and space agency will work with NASA to identify areas of Australia’s competitive advantage to supply the Moon to Mars mission.

“We’re getting behind Australian businesses so they can take advantage of the pipeline of work NASA has committed to,” said Morrison.

In addition to the cash investment, the Australian Space Agency and NASA signed a Joint Letter of Intent to formalise collaboration between the two agencies. Signed by Head of the Australian Space Agency, Megan Clark and NASA deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, the agreement builds upon historical cooperation efforts and looks toward collaboration in areas such as robotics, remote asset management, and automation.

“The investment will allow our businesses and researchers to contribute Australia’s best ideas and technology to support NASA’s plan to return to the Moon and on to Mars,” said Clark.

Acknowledging the potential this agreement has for the local space industry, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, outlined the purpose of the investment and agreement.

“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,” said Andrews.

Local industry associations welcomed the announcement, with Rod Drury, chair of the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA), noting that, “A partnership with NASA will provide the next big incremental step needed to ensure continued expansion in the industry, encouraging the development of local skills and expertise and enabling a host of job opportunities for both current and future participants in the space sector, as well as motivating and encouraging our budding space enthusiasts”.