Australia to get a space agency

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Australia to get a space agency

Don't expect spacecraft - or too many details.

Australia will get its own space agency but no details have been revealed about how it will be funded or whether it will launch its own satellites and spacecraft.

Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Michaelia Cash, said in a statement that it was "crucial" that Australia played a part in the global space industry's growth.

“A national space agency will ensure we have a strategic long-term plan that supports the development and application of space technologies and grows our domestic space industry," she said.

Cash said the agency would act as Australia's "anchor for our domestic coordination" of space activity "and the front door for our international engagement".

The government is awaiting the results of a space industry capability review - due in March 2018 - before it determines the new agency's charter.

The review had so far received "almost 200 written submissions" and consulted with "more than 400 people" across Australia.

“Feedback from the extensive consultation process has overwhelmingly shown the need for the establishment of a national space agency,” the government said.

The Australian National University (ANU) said in a statement it was "poised to play a key role" in the new agency but offered no further details.

Welcomed by space sector

Australian space startup Fleet's co-founder and CEO Flavia Tata Nardini, told iTnews she was excited about this development and what it will do for the space industry in Australia.

She wrote an open letter to the government back in June asking for a "decicated Australian space agency".

“The establishment of a national space agency is an important shift in attitude that shows the federal government is now starting to take the potential of space, and Australia's burgeoning role in it, seriously,” Nardini said.

“Space is a $400 billion market globally, and it's only going to continue growing as more industries look to the skies for their future prosperity.

"A space agency enables Australia to take a bigger slice of this market with confidence."

Australian space start-ups like Fleet, Gilmour Space Technologies, and Saber Astronautics would no longer have to rely 100 percent on overseas and private parties for support - be it financial or assistance on activities such as market strategies, technology development, or the establishment of international relationships, Nardini added.

“For me, the move shows that the federal government is serious about space and innovation and the potential it brings, which is incredibly exciting and promising,” she said.

Dr Alan Duffy, a research fellow at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, said the announcement marked a huge moment for Australia as we can finally explore and commercialise space together as a nation”.

“A national space agency isn’t about sending people into space, it’s about creating jobs here in Australia,” Dr Duffy said.

“I have spoken to countless students who want to know how they can work in the exciting space sector without having to go abroad.

"With a national space agency, our best and brightest can now create a future economy right here.”

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