And so it begins...
After decades of waiting-and-seeing, Australia has committed to growing its domestic space industry with the view of boosting jobs, diversifying revenues, and providing a high-tech future for the nation.
“We congratulate the government on taking this progressive first step for Australia,” said Adam Gilmour, CEO and Founder of Queensland-based rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies. “As a new space startup, we often face global competitors that have the backing and support of their space agencies,” he added. “Having one of our own will go a long way in helping us level the playing field.”
The Australian Space Agency (ASA) will be headed by Dr Megan Clark, CSIRO’s former chief executive and chair of the Expert Reference Group (ERG), which recently completed a nine-month review of the nation’s space industry capabilities.
“The fact that we’re here today is an excellent demonstration of Dr Clark’s ability to galvanise change and represent Australia in the global space arena,” said Mr Gilmour. “Her challenge now will be to put in place the right people, structure and mandate for the new space agency that will encourage positive commercial outcomes.”
According to Minister for Jobs & Innovation, Michaelia Cash, ASA “will support the long-term development of space technologies, grow our domestic space industry and secure our place in the global space economy.”
“The ERG has made some key recommendations in their report, and we’re very glad to see the inclusion of next-generation rocket propulsion systems on the list, together with proposed changes to the Space Activities Act this year,” added Mr Gilmour, whose company is developing a new breed of low-cost hybrid-engine rockets that it plans to launch from Australia.
“Indeed, I would urge the government and ASA to also look beyond the ‘downstream’ opportunities that make use of space data. Australia will need to develop and build its own domestic ‘upstream’ satellite and launch capabilities, if it wants to reduce reliance on other nations for new space infrastructure and ensure its critical access to space.”
The first step is always the hardest, and the government’s decision to provide $41 million in seed funding over four years to establish the agency was significant in that respect.
“It won’t be enough to meet the ERG’s revenue goal of $10-12 billion by 2030, but it is encouraging that the government is open to additional funding for a national space investment plan in the first six months,” said Mr Gilmour.
“We look forward to working with Dr Clark and the ASA in the days, months and years ahead to move the Australian space industry onward and upward. To the stars.”