Australian space agency has potential to grow economy and research

Flinders University

Thursday, 10 May, 2018

Australian space agency has potential to grow economy and research

With predictions the space industry could be worth more than $3.5 trillion within three decades, now is the time for the Australian Government to establish a national space agency.

“We can’t afford to get stuck on Earth when everyone else is going to the stars. Australia can finally step up and participate as an equal with other nations,” said Flinders University space archeologist Dr Alice Gorman. “The European Space Agency has nine centres and NASA runs 11 which support spaceflight programs. Large chunks of the private sector rely on them but our model has to be different.”

Continued investment by private corporations can be capitalised on with $50 million in seed funding for a dedicated agency — allowing Australia the opportunity to grow its market share in a booming sector. Dr Gorman said the push for advancements in space technology and space exploration present economic opportunities in a global market.

“This is an investment which allows us to compete in the global space race, and the Space Industry Association of Australia predicts we can increase our share in the market from 0.8% to 4% within 20 years.

“We are talking about an industry that will need engineers, scientists, researchers, archeologists and even writers and artists. Some skin in the game also gives our voice credibility on issues like space junk and space treaties.”

In 1967 Australia became the third nation to launch a satellite on its own territory but has lagged behind since without a dedicated agency. Dr Gorman said Australia can’t afford to neglect the industry, and the investment will also help solve critical issues back on earth.

“Space medicine is a growing area, and research done on bone density and vision impairment helps both astronauts and people on Earth. We can also develop our Earth observation capabilities for disaster and environmental management,” she said. “This investment ism’t taking revenue away from important issues, but will actually contribute to solving them using the data that’s gathered.”

But with the government yet to announce the location of a headquarters for the agency, Dr Gorman said South Australia has the potential to put itself in the shop window.

“A Canberra-based headquarters supported by state-based centres makes a lot of sense. A number of exciting start-ups are already based in Adelaide together with the state-funded accelerator and incubator programs.”

Dr Gorman said the government would not invest millions to set up the agency if there wasn’t a clear benefit for jobs and the economy.

“Australia can finally step up and participate. It’s our time at last.”

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