Are We Closer To An Aussie Space Agency?

As the ACT and South Australian governments discuss options.

We watched as Russia soared into space, then America and China, now the time is finally here. Australia is a few steps closer to building our own space industry.

Andrew Barr, ACT chief minister, and Jay Weatherill, South Australian premier have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding in hopes to start an Australian Space Agency.

And it’s looking as though a space station may go ahead, as the federal government announced a review into Australia’s space capabilities in July.

With boundless plains to share, where exactly in our wide brown land will our new space station live?

Andrew Barr is confident that South Australia is the perfect destination for the space station as it is “spacious and has a history of industry" he told the ABC:

Underpinning the MOU is a commitment to collaborate on building the national space industry and delivering impact nationally.

Australia is one of just two OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) left without a Space Industry. Jay Weatherill believes it’s a matter of “exercising leadership” to encourage the Commonwealth to overcome years of “inertia in our investment and our policy imperatives in relation to space.”

Both the Northern Territory and Western Australia have also expressed interest in signing up.

The benefits of an Australian Space Station are obvious. Looking to NASA’s model, Australia’s space industry could explore multiple avenues. Brad Tucker an Astronomer from the Australian National University explains:

When you look at all the other models, take the NASA model, they work well because you have a whole bunch of different groups doing similar things, but collaboratively.

An Australian Space Agency would support and encourage creativity within the Australian science industry, broadening horizons, so to speak.

“You have barriers of politics; you have barriers of funding, you have barriers of distances and all those require their own paperwork. So that requires extra work, extra signings, extra people," he said.

It limits what we do best, and that is being creative and advancing space technology.

Currently, there are only 1,100 people in our aeronautical sector, if the space station was to go ahead, this number is expected to triple.

The future of an Australian Space Industry will be discussed at the International Astronomical Congress conference in SA next month.

Header: Shutterstock

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