The Australian Space Agency (ASA) has released a 10 year plan to guide the growth of the country’s civilian space industry.
The plan lays out a number of ‘strategic space pillars’ that aim to create a competitive environment for industry: international, leveraging bilateral and multilateral partnerships to make Australian players globally competitive; national, to bring the benefits of a growing space sector into the wider economy; responsible, to guide activity under an appropriate framework and adhere to international norms; and inspire, investing in the next generation of space workers.
These will be developed in three phases –setting the conditions for growth in 2019, ‘engaging with opportunity’ between 2019-2021, and ‘delivering success’ between 2021-2028.
The second and third phases will see delivery of the $15 million International Space Investment Initiative, the $19.5 million Space Infrastructure Fund, the finalising of legislation and regulations, and a focus on robotics, automation, launch, space situational awareness, and more.
The first two national civil space priorities – position, navigation and timing, and Earth observation – received $224.9m and $36.9m respectively to Geoscience Australia in the 2018 Federal Budget.
“With the rapid transformation of the sector the time is right for Australia to leverage its competitive advantages; with our unique location to connect with space; robotics, sensors and automation; and our capability in advanced communication, quantum technology, rocket propulsion, space medicine and astronomy, to take its place in the global space sector,” Agency head Dr Megan Clarke said.
Dr Clarke also went into specific detail on what exactly the Agency hopes to achieve.
“We will report every two years on our progress towards our goal of tripling the sector’s contribution to GDP to $12 billion and creating an additional 20,000 jobs by 2030,” Dr Clark said. “We also aim to stimulate at least a $1 billion pipeline of inbound capital investment in Australia’s civil space industry sector between 2019 and 2028; [and] achieve year-on-year growth of the Australian space sector that exceeds 8.5 per cent.”
According to the strategy, the ASA also hopes to participate in a joint international mission before 2028.
There are a number of challenges ahead that the document acknowledges. Foremost amongst these is the competitiveness of the global sector. Australia’s aerospace industry, which underpins space presence, is significantly smaller than those of the US and Europe. This means Australian companies will need to focus on areas of comparative advantage, such as geography, in order to demonstrate value to cashed-up foreign players.