The latest industry roadmap published by CSIRO encourages the growing domestic space sector to join with international partners to adopt a bold challenge — providing technological expertise to help to establish a human base on the Moon.
A sector-wide ‘lunar challenge’ is an exciting opportunity for Australian industry to contribute to a common goal aimed at growing the size of the domestic space industry to $12 billion by 2030.
It would also be used to inspire future generations with a new grand challenge, as the Apollo program did in the 1960s and 1970s.
Meeting the challenge would involve building capabilities in autonomous robotic systems. Deep space exploration missions are hostile environments for humans, so developments in machine learning, AI and robotics are essential to gather data and supporting analytics.
In-situ resource utilisation is another core focus. Inhabitants of the Moon or Mars will have to mine local resources, which will require mapping and prospecting, processing of new minerals and materials and additive manufacturing capabilities.
Deep space exploration missions will also require innovative systems for all aspects of habitat and life support including food, medicine and shelter and waste management, and technology solutions suitable for in-situ power generation, energy harvesting and storage, engine and fuel options for rockets and in-space propulsion.
An international coordination group already exists with the aim of expanding human exploration and presence in low Earth orbit, and on the Moon and Mars, over the next two decades.
The call came in a report released yesterday by CSIRO entitled Space: A Roadmap for unlocking future growth. The report was launched by Minister for Industry, Science, and Technology Karen Andrews, who is herself an engineer.
“Australia is ready to take bold new steps to grow its space sector, providing jobs now and into the future,” Minister Andrews said.
Bold steps indeed.