Australia’s spatial professionals welcome space agency launch

By on 3 July, 2018

A rocket carrying a Sky Muster II NBN communications satellite launches at the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana in October 2016. The Australian Space Agency will help facilitate Australian launch infrastructure. Image courtesy of AAP Image/National Broadband Network.

The Australian Space Agency has been formed as of July 1 with the goal of tripling Australia’s space economy by 2030, launching a new era for extraterrestrial Australian endeavors.

The government’s May announcement revealed key details of the agency’s form and function, which will initially focus on developing international partnerships, and serve as a coordinating body for industry and government.

This historic occasion has been welcomed by Australia’s spatial professionals, with Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) president Gaby van Wky characterising the development as ‘a renaissance of Australian leadership in space-borne Earth observation.’

“Australia’s spatial and other professionals have long been leading figures in space programs around the world. Despite this, we have – until now – been the largest first world economy without a national space agency”, said Mr. van Wyk.

Mr. van Wyk said that the global space industry was worth over $400 billion, with enormous economic and community multipliers, and Australia would be better positioned to lead and leverage this growing industry due to the Australian Space Agency.

“The Australian space program will have a positive impact on so many aspects of our lives: technology, the environment, agriculture, transport and infrastructure planning, mining, smart cities, education, health, aviation and many more,” said Mr van Wyk.

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The Australian Space Agency will have a very different profile relative to a behemoth such as NASA, with a fraction of the funding, and its stature in dealing with other departments and space-related procurement yet to be determined. In the era of new space, it appears to be positioned more as an accelerator for Australia’s space-reliant industries that will rely on close collaboration with business to advance its aims.

Currently headquartered in Civic, Canberra, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria have been jostling to become the agency’s permanent home, but agency head Dr. Megan Clark AC has indicated that she believes Canberra is the most appropriate location for the new agency, a view backed by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

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