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Australia Sets AUS$50 Million Seed Funding and Will Name Head for New Space Agency

Dr. Megan Clark. Photograph courtesy of CSIRO.

The Australian federal government is set to announce on 8 May 2018 a AUS$50 million seed funding for the new national space agency, and is expected to name Dr. Megan Clark as the agencies first head.

While the date of commencement of Australian Space Agency activities has not yet been announced, the allocation of AUS$50 million seed funding and the expected appointment of Dr. Clark as its director indicates that the agency will start operations soon.
Dr. Clark is a geologist who completed a review of the Australian space sector for the Australian federal government in March, and was director of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s leading government scientific research body.

A developed and advanced economy, the Australian government is late to creating a body to administer national space activities among its global peers, but Australia is a leading national security space user and the home to a growing New Space commercial sector. It is hoped that the Australian Space Agency will help promote further space activity in the country and the expanded exploitation of space for national and economic interests.

“Rather than putting people into space, it will be focused on creating jobs for those people on earth,” said Professor Alan Duffy, an astrophysicist at Swinburne University in Australia. “Space is a global sector worth some $420bn and grows faster than China’s economy – it’s something we want to be a part of. The aim is to develop commercial opportunities so Australian start-ups and companies gain access to this very valuable sector.”
The AUS$50 million seed funding amount seems to have been arrived at through a politically bipartisan agreement among Australia’s political parties.

“Both the government and Labor have committed to functionally the same funding figure, which bodes well in that we have a bipartisan supported agency,” said Professor Duffy.

It is hoped that the creation of an Australian Space Agency will not only spur further growth of the Australian space sector, as well as greater awareness of space in Australia, but will also inspire young Australians to pursue careers in space.

“The inspirational value is worth the $50m price tag alone. There will be any number of future engineers and scientists inspired to go into STEM as a result of this space agency. They will now know there is a place for them,” added Professor Duffy.

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