WA to join in Australia’s space efforts

On July 10, federal Science Minister Karen Andrews and her WA counterpart, Dave Kelly, signed an MoU outlining WA’s involvement in Australia’s space capabilities.

The agreement involves $6 million in investment from the federal government to develop partnerships and engagement between WA industry and the global space ecosystem.

The investment will be separated into two sections.

The first section will involve $4.5 million to build a robotics and artificial intelligence mission control facility, which will enable the remote operation of autonomous and robotics systems in space.

The second section involves $1.5 million to develop space data analysis facilities. Data delivered from satellites will be used for mining, agriculture, emergency services and maritime surveillance applications.

The WA government will support this investment with $2 million in funding. According to a statement released with the MoU, further investment will be considered in forthcoming state budgets.

This investment is hoped to create jobs, diversify the economy and boost innovation.

Both businesses and research institutions will be targeted for involvement in the state-federal partnership.

Andrews highlighted how WA’s existing advanced manufacturing capacity can be utilised by the space sector.

“This agreement will leverage WA’s growing space capabilities in areas such as adopting the robotics and automation capabilities in the resources sector for use in space,” said Andrews.

Kelly echoed these comments, noting that WA’s contribution will be key to national efforts.

“The robotics and artificial intelligence mission control facility will be a key component in the development of the nation’s capability to advance robotic and autonomous activities in space. WA is well placed to play a leading role in this endeavour, building on our world-leading industry expertise in remote operations,” said Kelly.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark, also noted how WA is already prepared to host space sector initiatives.

“WA hosts significant civil and defence space infrastructure including the recently opened Airbus Zephyr flight base, has existing collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency, and will support the Agency’s role in strengthening Australia’s relationship with these and other international space agencies,” said Clark.