Perth makes bid for slice of new generation space race pie

Perth will soon to be home to a national consortium aiming to capitalise on locally developed robotic technologies for space exploration, such as mining for water on the moon. The venture could inject $200 million per year into the local economy in five years’ time according to PwC’s estimates.

The not-for-profit consortium AROSE (Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth) – being led by Woodside, Fugro, Nova Systems, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia – will use Perth as a global centre for remote operations in space, enabling Western Australian industry and universities to bid for space exploration projects.

Making the announcement on Monday, Minister for Science and Innovation and ICT, Dave Kelly, said robotics was a natural area of excellence for WA because of the adoption of digital and automation technologies in the mining, oil and gas sectors based in WA, and made the point that opportunities in space are not just about launching rockets.

“Almost everything in the new missions to the Moon and Mars will be operated remotely so launching things into space is just one part of it,” Kelly said.

“You want to build a new space station orbiting the moon, that’s going to be done remotely, you’re not going to have 100 electricians going up in a spacecraft to the moon and putting all the nuts and bolts together. All that will be done remotely from the Earth.

“As the world-leader in autonomous and remote operations and a participant in the space industry for more than 60 years, WA is primed and ready to contribute to the Australia-NASA Moon to Mars partnership.

“What AROSE will do, is take the world-class technology already utilised in WA and adapt it for remote operations on the Moon, Mars and beyond.

“In doing so, it will unlock new opportunities for WA businesses to participate in global space supply chains and ensure local businesses secure contracts in international space initiatives such as NASA’s Lunar Gateway and project Artemis.”

PwC economic modelling estimates that in five years’ time the remote operations opportunities derived through AROSE will improve WA’s economy by $196 million on an annual basis and create 1,540 jobs in WA. The state government has invested $1.5 million into AROSE.

AROSE director, former NASA Astronaut Colonel Pamela Melroy, said she was amazed at the remote operations technology developed in Australia.

“It was immediately apparent to me those technologies were exactly what we needed for global space exploration,” Melroy said.