Dr. Megan Clark

This article is by the head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr. Megan Clark

When the Australian Space Agency formed, we prepared for our mission to grow and transform the Australian space sector, and inspire and improve the lives of Australians. Today July 1 marks our second anniversary.

We have been blown away by the efforts of the entire space community to build the momentum and show the world what Australia can do. We thank all those who have built their businesses, built international collaborations, developed new ideas for space, and used space to improve our everyday lives. We also thank those who have been curious to learn about Australia’s growing achievements in space. We appreciate the support and commitment from the Government, the entire space sector and the public. I am delighted that we are on track to meet the goals set by the Government and deliver on our strategy.

I thank each member of the Australian Space Agency over the last 2 years not for just what has been achieved but how they have worked together. Every day we seek to position Australia as a responsible global citizen in space. This involves building trust by doing what we said we would do; bringing a shared ambition to our partnerships; embracing an entrepreneurial spirit and drawing strength from our diversity. We have a lot to learn as we push the boundaries of our knowledge and ensure Australia is at the forefront of space developments.

Our first year saw the release of our brand, which is linked to Australia’s powerful Indigenous heritage. We opened doors internationally and established national partnerships. We remain connected with the industry and broader sector to inform our way forward. Our two programs to grow capability and capacity – the International Space Investment initiative and the Space Infrastructure Fund – were also developed. Our Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-28 and values continue to guide us each step of the way during this exciting mission.

Now another remarkable year has passed. I reflect back feeling proud of our teams and inspired by the efforts of everyone in the Australian space sector. I am also hopeful about the future and the important role space will play in our country’s future including the recovery from COVID-19.

Since our first year, we now have established a significant partnership with NASA. Our $150m Moon to Mars initiative provides opportunities for Australian businesses and researchers to showcase their knowledge and capabilities to support NASA’s ambition to go forward on the Moon and on to Mars. This will help Australian businesses and our manufacturing sector to become more competitive in the international space supply chain. It will also support our goal to generate a further 20,000 jobs by 2030.

In February, it was a thrilling moment to launch our Headquarters at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews and Premier Steven Marshall. Plans are now underway to build our Australian Space Discovery Centre and Mission Control opening in 2021. Our ambition for the Space Discovery Centre is to help inspire the next generation through education and experience, which will help to grow a future high-tech workforce.

We have solidified our national and international partnerships. As of 1 July 2020, we have signed 9 Memorandums of Understanding, 16 Statements of Strategic Intent and 3 Letters of Intent. These include agreements with international space agencies and companies including Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Maxar Technologies, Goonhilly Earth Station, Thales Australia and Sitael, and Australian companies such as Myriota, Nova Systems, XTEK, EOS Space Systems, EM Solutions, Gilmour Space Technologies, Frontier SI, Speedcast and Woodside Energy. These agreements will continue increasing our capability to support both national and international space opportunities and programs.

Just recently, we announced the recipients of the $19.5m Space Infrastructure Fund and $11m International Space Initiative fund. Our Space Infrastructure Fund will see Saber Astronautics establish our Mission Control facilities; Fugro develop a new Space Automation, AI and Robotics Control Complex; and Pawsey Centre to establish a new Australian Space Data Analysis Facility managed by CSIRO. These announcements follow investments in space tracking facilities at the University of Tasmania and future manufacturing capacity at the Western Sydney Aerotropolis. Our 10 International Space Initiative fund recipients will help grow Australia’s space industry capability by supporting projects that build relationships with international space agencies.

The Australian Space Industry is an important part of our economic recovery, helping us emerge from COVID-19 stronger than ever. Through our Moon to Mars initiative, we are looking at ways to advance our manufacturing sector to increase our share in the US$350 billion global space market and bolster jobs. Our recent announcements will also enhance our capabilities nationally to remain key space players both within Australia and internationally, now and into the future.

I cannot wait to see where our mission lands us in the next year.

Dr Megan Clark AC
Head, Australian Space Agency

Dr. Megan Clark