Lunar challenge: an invitation to industry

By on 25 September, 2018

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr. Larry Marshall and Australian Space Agency Head, Dr. Megan Clark.

The CSIRO and Australian Space Agency have thrown down the moonshot gauntlet with the launch of their newest roadmap, setting a bold challenge to supercharge the domestic space industry.

With the ambitious objective of supercharging growth of Australia’s domestic space sector to be worth $12 billion by 2030, Australia’s two space-focused agencies have invited Australia’s technology and manufacturing sectors to rise to the challenge of establishing a human base on the moon.

The call comes as CSIRO launches their new report, Space: A Roadmap for unlocking future growth opportunities for Australia, and the Australian Space Agency sets to on its mandate of facilitating international partnerships and collaboration to stimulate the Australian space sector.

The CSIRO seeks to develop industrial capability in technologies to support human habitation on the moon. Image credit: NASA.

The ‘challenge’ would involve building local capability in autonomous robotic systems, power and propulsion, habitat and life support systems and in-situ resource utilisation in a lunar environment — mapping, prospecting, processing and additive manufacturing methods.

Launched yesterday by Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews at the 18th Australian Space Research Conference on the Gold Coast, the roadmap seeks to incentivise investment, growth and innovation in these technologies by leveraging three key ‘opportunity areas’, according to the CSIRO.

Further developing earth observation techniques and technology, satellite communications and positioning capability is the first of these, with the aim of growing service-based businesses to better address timely challenges such as disaster response and water management.

The second opportunity area identified in the report relates to exploiting Australia’s geographical position in the southern hemisphere to deepen involvement in international initiatives in deep space communications, object tracking and managing space debris.

Finally, the last third opportunity relates to galvanising industrial and research strengths in mining, medicine, manufacturing and agriculture to develop innovative systems and technologies to support robotic and human missions and develop ‘deep space gateway habitats’.

Head of the new Australian Space Agency, Dr. Megan Clark, endorsed the roadmap.

“This roadmap introduces some key scientific opportunities which Australia can utilise to drive engagement and growth across the space value chain,” she said.

“Together, the Australian Space Agency, CSIRO and other key partners will drive the full potential of our nation’s capabilities and competitive advantages, optimising our R & D opportunities and targeting growth across the space value chain to build a space sector of which all Australians can be proud.”

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