Australia needs sovereign space capability: SmartSat CRC head

By on 2 October, 2019

The first pair of the 28 Planet Labs Earth Observation satellites leave the ISS, February 11 2014. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Professor Andy Koronios, CEO-Designate of the SmartSat CRC, has argued that contemporary politics show why Australia needs sovereign space capability.

Formed in April 2019 with $55 million in federal funding, the SmartSat CRC has now expanded to include the investment of over 100 organisations that have committed another $190 million.

In opinion piece ahead of the 19th Australia Space Research Conference in Adelaide this week, Professor Koronios has argued that the volatility of international relations cfreate a compelling argument for Australia to develop independent space capability.

‘For example, a no-deal Brexit could see the UK cut its umbilical cord from the EU, and this, in turn, may shut them out from the space work in which they are currently involved in and for which they have paid,’ he writes.

‘This includes programs like the Global Navigation Satellite System project Galileo, which provides GPS type positioning and navigation services or Copernicus, which provides global, continuous, autonomous, high quality, wide-range Earth observation capability.

By developing our own capabilities, Australia will not only protect its national security from unforeseeable future events like Brexit but also improve the economic outlook in a range of important industries.’

Professor Kronios argues that Australia ends up at a competitive disadvantage by using other states’ data, and access could be revoked when relationships go south.

‘We collaborate very well on crop yields with the Chinese Academy of Science. The Chinese have so much advanced modelling and, of course, they’ve got their own satellites and they can actually have a very good understanding of our crop yields. They give us that information but we receive it late: they use it first and then give it to us,’ he writes.

‘This means Australian agriculture relies on estimated yields from mobile ground inspectors for future trading, which isn’t as accurate as satellite information. This gives the Chinese an advantage in future price negotiations because they know more about our yields than our farmers know and that’s not a good thing.’

Read the entire article on In Daily.

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