Have your say on the $150m Moon to Mars initiative

By on 19 February, 2020

The Moon in front of the Earth. NASA’s Moon-to-Mars program image.

The Australian Government has released a consultation paper and is inviting submissions on its $150m contribution to America’s Moon to Mars initiative.

The news comes as PM Scott Morrison officially opened the Australian Space Agency’s offices in central Adelaide this week, with officials predicting the site would help triple the size of the nation’s space industry.

“Space captures the imagination and inspires us all. It develops new technologies that improve life on Earth and it offers huge economic and job opportunities,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

“That’s why we’re investing almost $700 million into the space sector, including $150 million into Australian businesses so they can pick up more work and support more jobs by partnering with NASA’s Moon to Mars initiative,” he said.

During his visit to the United States to meet Donald Trump, on 21 September 2019 Scott Morrison committed A$150m to a new partnership on future space cooperation between the Australian Space Agency (the Agency) and NASA.

The $150 million is said to be intended for Australian businesses and researchers to join NASA’s endeavour to return to the Moon and then go on to Mars. This money will be focused in Australia, the government says, and will be available over a five year period, with funding commencing in the 2020-21 financial year.

The Agency is seeking feedback on the proposed design of the measures of the initiative, which are set out in the consultation paper. This includes consideration of the objectives, program design and potential areas of investment that will develop Australia’s space industry and inspire all Australians. Below is the introduction to the paper, with the full version available here.

The Agency’s purpose is to transform and grow a globally respected Australian space industry that lifts the broader economy, inspires and improves the lives of Australians – underpinned by strong international and national engagement. Under the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028 (the Strategy), Australia is aiming to significantly grow its space market segment from approximately 10,000 jobs and a market size of $3.9 billion up to another 20,000 jobs and $12 billion by 2030.

The Moon to Mars initiative

The Australian Government announced the measure Growing Australia’s Space Industry in September 2019 –known publicly as the Moon to Mars initiative. The measure provides $150 million to support Australian businesses and researchers to access international space supply chains, create jobs in Australia and support the growth of industries across the economy through the development and application of space technologies. Through this, Australian organisations will join with NASA and other international partners to bring Australian capabilities to space, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The measure is comprised of three integrated elements:

  • Supply Chain program – Consisting of both grant and facilitation components, this program targets projects and activities to build capability in Australia’s space industry and support Australian industry to deliver products and services into the United States’ and international space supply chains.
  • Demonstrator program – Demonstrator and pilot projects showcasing Australia’s strengths to the world by providing a pathway for Australian industry to develop and launch products that will create new capability, enabling new business ventures, revenue streams or markets.
  • Trailblazer program – A major project supporting NASA’s activities related to their return to the Moon and on to Mars.

The Agency will work with the Business Grants Hub under AusIndustry to deliver elements of the Moon to Mars initiative. The phasing of funding is shown in Table 1.

 

The three programs under the Moon to Mars initiative are integrated, with activities in the Supply Chain and Demonstrator programs ultimately supporting the Trailblazer program. For example, it is expected that opportunities identified through the former two programs will inform the design and delivery of the Trailblazer program.

This consultation paper focuses on the Supply Chain and Demonstrator programs as these will be implemented in 2020-21. More detailed consultation will occur on the Trailblazer program at a later date, however stakeholders are welcome to provide comments on this element, for example potential opportunities for investment.

The indicative timetable for the program is in Table 2.

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