Australian space agency to launch on 1 July with former CSIRO boss Dr Megan Clark at the helm

- May 15, 2018 2 MIN READ

After announcing the launch of the entity in last week’s Federal Budget, the government has confirmed $15 million in funding for the establishing of the Australian Space Agency and the appointment of former CSIRO head Dr Megan Clark as its chief.

Announcing the news in Perth yesterday, Minister for Innovation Michaelia Cash stated the agency will operate from 1 July, tasked with supporting the long-term development of space technologies, growing the domestic space industry, and securing Australia’s place in the global space economy.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to increase our share of the growing global space economy. Space technologies are not just about taking people to the moon, they open up opportunities for many industries, including communications, agriculture, mining, oil and gas,” said Cash.

To be part of the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science, the agency will also facilitate international space engagement, the government stated, across policy and industry forums, to build the networks necessary to develop Australia’s space capability and ensure the industry can access global supply chains. The location of the agency has yet to be determined.

The establishment of the agency comes after a review into Australia’s space industry capabilities was ordered by former Minister for Innovation, Arthur Sinodinos last July, with Cash then in September announcing that the government would be launching a national space agency.

The review was delivered to the government earlier this year, with the government yesterday releasing its response.

The government has supported most of the nine recommendations put forward, including the establishment of a national space agency itself.

The government has also supported the recommendation that the strategy for the national space industry gives importance to emerging frontiers where Australia can “leapfrog into areas of future competitive advantage”, including in the application of AI, robotics, and big data analytics to space systems and space-derived information, and the recommendation that the government provide ongoing funding to the agency, with an initial $26 million in funding to be provided over four years.

The review also recommended that the agency facilitate regulatory approval processes for small satellite launch facilities in Australia and the launch of Australian satellites overseas in order for commercial entities “to move quickly”.

This recommendation was “supported in principle”, with the government noting it has undertaken a review of the Space Activities Act 1998 and is implementing amendments to streamline the Act, including removing barriers for those undertaking space activities. The revised Act is expected to be introduced to Parliament this year.